A neurological disorder is one that affects any part of the nervous system, such as the brain, nerves, or spinal cord. Most neurological disorders are actually genetic, which means you go it from a parent or grandparent. If you have been showing symptoms of a possible neurological disorder, your doctor will probably order a series of screening tests and imaging tests. Here are some tests you might have to look for possible neurological disorders.
First Stage of Screening Tests
When you first start showing symptoms for a possible neurological disorder, your doctor will start with the basic screening tests. These can tell your doctor a lot and are easy to perform, so they are often ordered before other types of tests. They might include:
Laboratory tests – Laboratory screening tests will collect fluid or substances from your person, usually either blood or urine. They can shed light on the symptoms you are having and rule out certain diseases or medical conditions. With neurological conditions, they can tell your doctor if you have possible blood vessel damage, a hemorrhage, infection of the spinal cord, or bone marrow disease.
Genetic testing during pregnancy – If you are pregnant, your doctor can give you a few different screening tests that look for possible neurological disease in your unborn child. The first is an amniocentesis, performed near the beginning of the second trimester. It will test amniotic fluid to look for different genetic defects. A uterine ultrasound can typically find growth issues or chromosomal disorders. You can also find out the rest of neurological disorders with a test called a chorionic villus sampling.
Your doctor will also proceed with a neurological examination if they suspect a disorder or disease. The examination will look at your basic sensory skills and motor skills, including your mental status, changes in mood or behavior, coordination, balance, vision, hearing, and speech. They use different tools to perform this exam, including an ophthalmoscope, reflex hammer, flashlight, tuning fork, and needles. They can look for Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, meningitis, encephalitis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
X-rays are an imaging test that is part of a normal neurological work-up. This will look at different parts of your body, chest and skull to find any abnormalities. In addition, the doctor might use a type of x-ray called a fluoroscopy. It will use a small amount of radiation to look at how a certain body part works when it is in motion.
Additional Diagnosing Tests
There may come a point when your doctor needs to perform more diagnostic tests to find out why you are having certain neurological symptoms. These tests include:
Angiography – This looks for blockages in your veins or arteries. A special type of angiography is called a cerebral angiogram, which can look at obstructions in the blood vessels or arteries going to your brain, neck, or head. They can see vascular deformities, brain tumors, and aneurysms.
Biopsy – If your doctor thinks you have a gene that could be passed onto your children, they might perform a biopsy. They do this by taking a small amount of tissue from your body and testing it for a neuromuscular disorder and whether or not you have nerves that could be passed on.
Brain scan – A brain scan is performed if your doctor wants to see if you have a hemorrhage, blood vessel malformation, or tumor of the brain. It can also be used to look at diseases to your tissues or muscles.
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