Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis

Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis

Diagnosing MS can be difficult without appropriate neurological evaluation. This is because other diseases and conditions can produce symptoms similar to MS. There is no current diagnostic test which, by itself, confirms the diagnosis. Rather, the determination of whether a person has MS depends on a thorough evaluation in which other medical conditions are ruled out and the presenting symptoms and diagnostic test results are judged to be most likely due to MS. These diagnostic tests may include:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI scans show brain abnormalities present in more than 90 percent of patients with MS
  • Evoked potentials: Measure changes in electrical activity in the central nervous system
  • Lumbar Puncture: Also known as a spinal tap, abnormalities in cerebrospinal fluid can be detected in 80 to 90 percent of patients with MS
  • Blood tests: Though there is no specific blood test for multiple sclerosis, evidence of other conditions that may mimic MS may be detected in the blood.

The Northwestern Medicine Multiple Sclerosis Program offers cutting-edge, evaluation and compassionate care for patients with MS. To learn more about our neurodiagnostic services or to request an appointment, please call 312.695.7950 or fax your physician referral to 312.695.5747.