The medical history and neurological exam are the mainstay of diagnosis in MS. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Evoked Potentials (EP) and occasionally Lumbar puncture (LP), are tests that may be useful in confirmation when a diagnosis of MS is suspected.
It is important to remember that there is no one test that can be used to diagnose MS. The diagnosis of MS is only made once other potential causes for symptoms have been ruled out.
MRI is a medical imaging technique commonly used in radiology to visualize the internal function and structure of the body. In MS, the MRI can provide pictures of the areas of damage (lesions) in the central nervous system, caused by MS, and can also reveal whether there is loss of brain volume.
EP is a test that measures the speed of nerve impulse conduction in the pathways of the central nervous system. In MS, nerve impulse conduction is slowed related to the myelin damage, and EP’s can record this slowing.
LP can be helpful when other investigations are negative. A small needle is inserted at the base of the spine and a small amount of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is collected to test for the presence of proteins which are known to be present with inflammation in the central nervous system.