OHSU

Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis

How is multiple sclerosis diagnosed?

With today's medicine, there is no definitive test available to diagnose multiple sclerosis. A diagnosis may be made based on:

  • Symptoms — including type of symptoms, how often they appear and how long they last
  • Medical tests
  • Ruling out other conditions

What happens during an exam for MS?

Your doctor will take your medical history and conduct a neurological exam to find out how you are functioning mentally and physically.   

Tests you might have:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – Produces detailed images of the body's organs and structures to show damage caused by MS.
  • Evoked potentials – Measures the length of time nerves respond to stimulation.
  • Cerebral spinal fluid analysis (also called spinal tap or lumbar puncture) – Examines spinal column fluid to check for abnormalities from MS.
  • Blood tests to rule out other causes.

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Tests & Procedures