Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)
Screening and Tests for Multiple System Atrophy
Neurologists employ several tests for multiple system atrophy (MSA) to diagnose and confirm the disease. Screening for MSA begins with a review of the history of symptoms and a physical examination including a vision test, and a neuromuscular exam of nerve and muscle function. A tilt-table test reveals excessive blood pressure changes that occur when moving from a lying to standing position without a danger of the patient falling. The doctor also performs a series of tests to assess autonomic functions. Additional screening includes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), dopamine imaging by PET and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and tests for neopinephrine, a chemical released into the blood by physical stress. Reduced cardiac uptake of 123I-metaiodo benzylguanidine (MIBG) in Parkinson’s disease but not in MSA is a useful way of distinguishing the two diseases.