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Some of the testing we perform on multiple sclerosis patients includes brain MRIs and neuropsychological testing.

Brain MRIs

Brain MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) or neuroimaging helps to improve the diagnosis and monitoring of multiple sclerosis.

Patients are seen in our state-of-the-art facilities located on the third floor of the medical center. You may park in the parking garage and then take the elevator down to 3Z reception (PDF) in the medical center.

How often do patients have MRIs?

The frequency of MRIs is highly individual as is MS in general. Some patients with very active disease benefit from MRIs up to twice a year, while other patients can go a decade or more without requiring a followup MRI.

Why do patients receive intravenous dye when they have scans?

The dye is used to help determine how recently the patient has had a symptom-free MS attack. It allows the clinician to see the affected area of the brain more clearly.

What about cervical-spine or thoracic-spine scans?

Scans of the spine, which image the spinal cord, can frequently be helpful.

Neuropsychological testing

Neuropsychological testing (or testing of the functioning of your brain) involves trying to identify cognitive problems associated with MS, which are then usually addressed by finding ways to work around some of the mild to moderate issues experienced.

Symptoms can include:

  • Reduced speed of information processing
  • Difficulties learning and remembering new information
  • Problems with "working memory" or mental multi-tasking

These cognitive problems can often be managed effectively using compensatory strategies. Studies are underway to assess medications for the treatment of MS-related cognitive symptoms, but there are currently no medications that clearly benefit cognitive problems caused by MS.

What is neuropsychological testing?

A neuropsychological evaluation is a way of evaluating many different kinds of cognitive abilities, such as those mentioned above. This involves pencil and paper tests and may include some computer-administered tests. Many people find these tests interesting. The neuropsychologist or neuropsychology technician will explain each test to you before you start. We ask people to set aside 6-7 hours to complete the testing, though it does not always take that long. You will have a lunch break, and can take other breaks as needed.

It is helpful to prepare for the tests by getting a good night's sleep before coming in for the session.

We ask people to set aside 6-7 hours to complete the testing, although often less time is required. A better understanding of your neuropsychological functioning can help your doctor determine a diagnosis and decide what treatment might be best for you. A referral is required.

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