Diagnosis of ALS
There is no single test used to establish a diagnosis of ALS. However, specially selected tests are performed to rule out other diseases.
In a neurological examination, the physician tests muscle strength, reflexes, sensation, walking, speech, swallowing and other functions. Certain abnormalities are frequently found in patients with ALS:
- Brisk reflexes
- Stiff arms and legs
- Uninhibited laughing or crying
- Wasting of muscles
- Muscle twitching
Electromyography (EMG) involves a needle being placed into a muscle to evaluate its function.
Nerve Conduction Studies
In nerve conduction studies, integrity of nerves is examined through electrical stimulation.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a special type of x-ray images the brain or spinal cord.
Blood is drawn and evaluated to eliminate other diseases which mimic ALS.
Nerve and/or Muscle Biopsy
For a nerve or muscle biopsy, sample of a nerve or muscle is removed for pathological analysis. This procedure is rarely required to establish the diagnosis of ALS.