How To Diagnose Multiple Sclerosis


There is a collection of tests that are needed to finally diagnose multiple sclerosis. This is so because there is no single diagnostic exam that is entirely proof-positive for the disease’s diagnosis.

Since the whole diagnosing process is difficult, a neurologist should be consulted as an evaluator. There is a ten percent among those who are said to have multiple sclerosis that actually has a disease that merely mimics multiple sclerosis. Such diseases that are usually mistaken as multiple sclerosis are multiple strokes, brain infection, inflammation of the blood vessels, lupus and vitamin deficiency. There are also some stress-related diseases that are misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis.

How the diagnosis is made

An accurate diagnosis of multiple sclerosis needs a complete medical history plus a neurological examination, which examines both the brain and the spinal cord. A lot of the diagnosing part, if not all, greatly depends on the correct questions asked by the physician in order to correctly uncover or discover important information.

In addition to a thoroughly taken medical history and physical assessment, there is also a variety of highly specialized procedures that are extremely helpful. Such procedures are spinal taps, MRI which makes use of imaging techniques, lumbar punctures which examine the cerebrospinal fluid running through the spinal column, laboratory analysis of the person’s blood, and evoked potentials which are basically electrical tests that determine if the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis has affected the nerve pathways.

Accepted criteria for diagnosis

First of all, it is in accordance to ongoing research that, multiple sclerosis occurs to those who are between twenty and fifty years of age. Aside from the weakening of the immune system, this age range is usually the one affected with the disease’s predisposing and precipitating etiologic factors.

For multiple sclerosis to be diagnosed there must be the presence of symptoms or signs that indicate damage or disease of the brain or the spinal cord. Also, since an MRI is compulsory, multiple sclerosis can only be diagnosed when there is evidence of two or more lesions. And of course, when all else fails and there is no other explanation for the underlying symptoms, the doctor could resort to diagnosing it as multiple sclerosis as long as the symptoms are congruent with that of the aforementioned disease.

What can be seen in the MRI scan?

With MRI, the neurologist is able to visualize any scar tissue in the deeper parts of the brain or the spinal cord due to the occurrence of multiple sclerosis. However, the very same lesions can also be seen in other conditions such as migraine headaches and hypertension. With this in mind, diagnosing multiple sclerosis is the last thing the physician would declare, since a group of tests are still needed to be done.

There is a five percent among those who have multiple sclerosis that does not show lesions on their MRI scan, probably because the lesions are somehow unique and cannot be easily detected by an MRI. Therefore, an MRI test is not completely depended on for immediately diagnosing or ruling out multiple sclerosis.

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