No single test can diagnose MS. A full examination of the patients medical history, neurologic exam and lab tests help physicians rule out other diseases and confirm the MS diagnosis.
Confirming an MS diagnosis can be straightforward, but is not always. Symptoms of MS may also occur in other disorders. Objective evidence of central nervous system (CNS) inflammation and demyelination (damage to the myelin sheath, the covering that protects nerve fibers), is usually obtained by thorough medical history, neurologic examination and supplementary studies. Other diagnoses that may mimic MS must be excluded.
Laboratory, imaging, and electrophysiological studies that may be performed to help diagnose and appropriately manage MS include the following:
- Blood tests
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
- MRI of the brain and spinal cord
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
- Visual field testing
- Electrical conduction studies (evoked potentials)
Other studies, such as, neuropsychological testing, bladder ultrasound, urodynamic studies may be warranted depending on the nature of the problems.