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Diagnosing multiple sclerosis

Several tests can be used to look for signs of multiple sclerosis.

No single test can confirm or rule out multiple sclerosis (MS), but the following techniques can help your doctor make a diagnosis:

  • A medical history and neurological exam can help a doctor identify symptoms that may be caused by MS and evaluate a person's mental and language functions, as well as information on movement, coordination, balance, vision and other senses. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a medical history and neurological exam often provide enough evidence to diagnose MS. Other tests are used to confirm the diagnosis or provide additional evidence if necessary.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can reveal patches of injured tissue in the central nervous system that suggest MS. Repeat tests can show whether diseased areas are changing.
  • A sample of cerebrospinal fluid may be analyzed for abnormal proteins.

Reviewed 8/16/2022

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