Neurological Diagnostic Tests

What are some diagnostic tests for nervous system disorders?

Photo of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Evaluating and diagnosing damage to the nervous system is complicated and complex. Many of the same symptoms occur in different combinations among the different disorders. To further complicate the diagnostic process, many disorders do not have definitive causes, markers, or tests.

Neurological tests to evaluate patients may include:

  • computerized tomography (CT ) or computer assisted tomography (CAT) scans -- forms of radiology or imaging that use computers to construct two-dimensional pictures of selected parts of the body. Dye may be injected into a vein to obtain a better picture.

  • electroencephalogram (EEG) -- a procedure that records the brain's continuous electrical activity by means of electrodes attached to the scalp.

  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) -- an advanced method of imaging the brain using a very strong magnet, without radiation.

  • electromyogram (EMG) -- a procedure that measures and records electrical activity from the muscles and nerves with mild electrical shocks to stimulate the nerves.

  • arteriogram (angiogram) -- a procedure that provides a scan of arteries going to and through the brain.

  • cerebral spinal fluid analysis (spinal tap) -- a procedure used to make an evaluation or diagnosis by examining the fluid withdrawn from the spinal column.

  • evoked potentials -- procedures that record the brain's electrical response to visual, auditory, and sensory stimuli.

  • myelogram -- a procedure that uses dye injected into the spinal canal to make the structure clearly visible on x-rays.

  • neurosonography -- a procedure that uses ultra high frequency sound waves that enable the physician to analyze blood flow in cases of possible stroke.

For more information about the University of Maryland Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, or to make an appointment, call the University Physicians Consultation and Referral Service at 1-800-492-5538 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).