Although there are tests that
can be performed for helping to diagnose Multiple
Sclerosis, it is not necessarily an easy task, when it comes
to actually diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis.
Since Multiple Sclerosis can
include any combination of a broad range of symptoms, it can sometimes
difficult for doctors to determine if a person has Multiple Sclerosis or some
other disease, which can cause the symptoms that the patient is experiencing.
conditions that can mimic the symptoms that are often associated with
Multiple Sclerosis can include Lyme disease, or some less
common nerve disorders.
The initial symptoms
of Multiple Sclerosis can
vary from mild to severe and can come and go over a period of time,
for 2 to 5 years, before it can be determined if indeed Multiple
present for creating the symptoms
that are being observed.
Before tests are performed to determine if Multiple Sclerosis is present, the doctor usually asks a series of questions of the person
experiencing a group of symptoms that appear to be nerve-related in
Once the initial
information is gathered, the doctor usually tests a series of responses
person’s body. This
include testing the reflexes, checking person’s balance, ability to
stand, or ability to
the degree of numbness and how widespread it is, check for unexplained
pain, and gather more information from the patient of any
symptoms that they may be experiencing that can help in determining if
the characteristic MS symptoms are present to suggest further testing
that can used to diagnose
can include the following:
the degree of MS
the person appears to be having problems with.
* MS MRI tests --
Magnetic Imaging Resonance or MRI tests uses magnetic
fields to perform tests at a deeper level, as far as
nerve, muscle and
other tissue damage to the body.
This type of
test involves inserting the patient, either
totally into a tube like device that can scan the whole body or any
part of the
body and produce pictures or films of what is detected inside of the
In most cases of
Multiple sclerosis, the
central nervous system or in
nerves throughout the body result in scarring, that can be detected by
tests and shown on the films that are a result of this type of
testing. MRI testing can be done on the brain, as well as the
spine, for helping to determine if Multiple Sclerosis is
the spinal cord and throughout different areas the brain can
and shown by scarring on the spinal cord or lesions in the brain by
performing this type of test. Often the MRI tests are used
more widely to diagnose Multiple
Sclerosis, along with clinical
evaluation of the symptoms that the patient is experiencing.
been used in the past to determine
if there is damage to the retinal nerve to determine if damage to the
nerve can be causing MS eye or
MS vision problems,
including problems seeing
(blurriness, problems focusing, seeing double, dimness of vision, fuzzy vision or out
of focus vision), loss of vision or
the past this test was
performed by sitting the person in front of a computer screen, while
flashing patterns and different intensity colors on the screen to
stimulate the retinal nerve and determine the response of the optic
nerves to light stimulation.A special
pair of glasses with sensors on it are worn and patterns, colors and
different intensity is flashed on the computer screen.
measured the response of the eyes to the stimulation and it was used to
determine what degree of damage there was to the retinal nerve.
This test isn't used quite as often as it was in the past, since
more advanced testing techniques have been developed over the last 10
to 15 years.
- a sample of spinal fluid is drawn from the base of the spine and
analyzed for certain protein markers. This used to be the
way to diagnose Multiple Sclerosis before he invention of the MRI or
magnetic imaging resonance testing was available.
have become more often used to diagnose
but there are other ways that continue to be developed and tested
through doing clinical trials and clinical studies to determine what
may help to make it easier to diagnose Multiple Sclerosis.
there is not as many clearly defined symptoms and scarring seen on the
MRI tests to make a more definitive diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, to
avoid the confusion between the MS and Lyme disease diagnoses, the
spinal Tap or Spinal Fluid analysis test is used to tell the difference
between Lyme disease and Multiple Sclerosis diseases, since at times
these 2 diseases can have some similar symptoms in common that can make
it more difficult to determine the correct diagnosis. In the case
of presence of Multiple Sclerosis the protein markers that are present
in the spinal fluid are not present if Lyme disease is present instead
of Multiple Sclerosis.* Retinal
Scan or OCT scan -- this test is performed
using a device called an Optical Coherence Tomography
or OCT for short.
This is a computerized imaging technique that uses laser light to make
a 3-D image of the retina to make it possible to scan
the layers of the nerve fibers of the retina in the back of the eye. It is a simple
test to perform.
OPC test involves first dilating the pupils of the eyes.
pictures using a special type of camera are taken, which allow 3D
pictures of the
structures inside the eye and in the brain to be taken. These
pictures allow the doctor to determine how much brain shrinkage
scarring is visible. The pictures also allow the doctor a way
to examine the eyes and the retinal
nerves in one or both eyes.
OPC test can help the doctor to determine if Multiple Sclerosis is
present by the degree of brain shrinkage or by the brain lesions that
typically present in the majority of cases of Multiple Sclerosis.
The OPC test is much easier to do and requires much less
time to perform the test, as compared to using the MRI tests as a
method of diagnosing
able to examine the brain is this way helps the doctor to determine
more about what health conditions may be present that are causing the
symptoms that are being experienced by the patient, including the
presence of Multiple Sclerosis.
OCT provides remarkably
detailed information about the retina and allows doctors to "see"
abnormalities that are not apparent on regular clinical examination.
It is particularly useful in certain diseases of the macular
and in glaucoma and to diagnose
Multiple Sclerosis, by determining if the characteristic traits of Multiple Sclerosis are present.
In 2007, a study was conducted with 40 MS patients at John Hopkins University using
OCT with very encouraging results being seen. Peter Calabresi, M.D. was the lead author of the study, which appeared in the
issue of Neurology.
Further tests run with the OCT have brought conclusions that the MRI test is an imperfect tool that measures the result
types of tissue loss rather than specifically nerve damage itself.
can see exactly how healthy these nerves are, potentially in advance of
symptoms. This exam and test can also be used to determine what degree
there is to the retinal nerve.
retinal nerve fiber layer is the one part of the brain where nerve
with the fat and protein sheathing called myelin, making
assessment specific for nerve damage as opposed to brain MRI changes,
reflect an array of different types of tissue processes in the MS brain
the Brain for MS Lesions
brain can be tested in more than one way using either MRI tests or
using the OPC test.
MRI can be
performed using a standard MRI test or a newer test can be performed
the past. the 2 main tests used to diagnose
Multiple Sclerosis were MRI tests
and spinal tap, where a sample
of spinal fluid was taken from the base of the spine, but that may
change, since more doctors are starting to switch to using the OCT
test. Since this is a newer test, the OCT test is not as
used as a diagnostic tool in diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis.
that is less invasive and doesn't take as long
to perform as an MRI
test can take. In addition the newer test is also cheaper to
while providing a in depth examination of the brain and the retina at
the same time.
method of OCT becomes more widely used in the future, this may make it
to diagnose Multiple Sclerosis and
give the doctors so much more
information on which parts of the body of each MS patient have
been damaged because
results of attacks
of Multiple Sclerosis
on the body.