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Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

One advantage of seeking care at the University of Chicago is that our specialists understand the intricate, yet subtle differences between multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases -- such as Sjögren's syndrome, Guillain-Barré syndrome, myasthenia gravis, and lupus -- that can exhibit similar warning signs and symptoms. They have the experience and depth of knowledge to more accurately diagnose multiple sclerosis, which is a key factor in better symptom management and medical outcomes.

Advanced Diagnostic Tools

There is no one medical test or a set of physical findings that conclusively diagnose multiple sclerosis. Our physicians use a variety of tools to determine whether an individual has MS or another, similar neurological condition. These tools may include:

  • Medical history
  • A neurological exam
  • Evoked potential (EP) tests that measure electrical activity of the brain in response to stimuli
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which provides information about brain lesions
  • A cerebral spinal fluid analysis, which looks for chemical abnormalities associated with MS
  • Blood tests
  • An optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan, which examines the optic nerve and retinal tissue at the back of the eye. This non-invasive scan is being tested as a "bio-marker" for asymptomatic patients who are at high-risk for developing multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders. OCT scans also measure the progression of MS in previously diagnosed patients.

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