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How is MS diagnosed?

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Quick Answer

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a diagnosis of MS is usually made by a neurologist who specializes in MS treatment after reviewing the criteria, laboratory results and imaging studies. No single test can diagnose multiple sclerosis. There are criteria that must be met before a diagnosis of MS is made, but even these criteria can be misleading as there are other diseases that imitate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

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According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a physician must first rule out other possible medical diseases before making a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Blood tests are performed to rule out other diseases although a blood test does not confirm a diagnosis of MS. There must be MRI evidence of at least two injuries to the central nervous system, including the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord, and these injuries must have happened at different times, with at least one month in between injuries.

Evoked potential tests are used to see the electrical activity level in different areas of the brain in response to stimuli, according to WebMD. These tests show any abnormalities caused by damage to the myelin sheath that surrounds the nerves. These three types of exams test the visual response, the sensory response and the auditory response in relation to certain stimuli, which then determine which nerve pathways are affected.

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