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Tests for MND

If your doctor feels you may have a neurological problem he will refer you to your local neurology department where you will be seen by a neurologist. You may then be sent for a series of diagnostic tests, which are usually performed as outpatient tests. Occasionally you may be admitted to hospital and the tests carried out while you are there.

Blood Tests: look for any rise in a creatine kinase. This is produced when muscle breaks down and can occasionally be found in the blood of people with MND. It is not specific for MND and may also be an indicator of other medical conditions.

Electromyography (EMG): is sometimes called the needle test, because fine needles are used to record the naturally-occurring nerve impulses within certain muscles. Recordings are usually taken from each limb and the bulbar (throat) muscles. Muscles, which have lost their nerve supply, can be detected because their electrical activity is different from normal healthy muscles. The EMG can be shown as abnormal even if that particular muscle is as yet unaffected. It is a very important diagnostic test.

Nerve Conduction Tests: may be carried out at the same time as the EMG. An electrical impulse is applied through a small pad on the skin. This measures the speed at which your nerves carry electrical signals.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): may be carried out at the same time as a nerve conduction test. It is designed to measure the activity of the upper motor neurones. Its findings can help in the diagnostic process.

Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI) scans: involve being placed in a cylinder-like machine. The machine takes images of the internal structures of the body. The MRI Scan can show up damaged areas caused by Stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, tumours and trapped nerves, as well as damage to the spine and brain caused by injury. An MRI scan will not diagnose Motor Neurone Disease, as the damage caused by this disease does not show up on this scan. However, it is used to eliminate other conditions which can mimic symptoms of MND.

Other tests: may be requested by your neurologist, such as a lumbar puncture or muscle biopsy, if the clinical findings indicate they could be useful. However, these are not always used as diagnostic tools for MND.

Information for download

You may find the following information useful:

  • Living with motor neurone disease (1188kb)
    Our main guide for people with MND, providing an overview of the disease and how to manage its impact. This can be downloaded or ordered as a printed pack with additional items from our helpline, MND Connect. The guide has been developed to help people with MND achieve the best possible quality of life from diagnosis onwards. It includes top tips, directions to further information and details about accessing support services. (Code: LW002)
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Raise vital funds to help fight MND

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