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Health Issues

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Diagnosis

The cause of ALS is not completely understood making it that much harder to diagnose. There is currently no one test to establish the diagnosis of ALS. Doctors often use observation, family history and ruling out other diseases before a diagnosis can be established. A comprehensive diagnostic workup may include: 

• electrodiagnostic tests including electomyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV)
• blood and urine tests including looking for certain proteins and other indicators
• spinal tap
• magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other x-rays
• myelogram of cervical spine
• muscle and/or nerve biopsy
• neurological examinations

There are other diseases that have similar symptoms to ALS that are more treatable and have a better outcome. The ALS Association recommends that a person diagnosed with ALS seek a second opinion from an ALS "expert" - someone who diagnoses and treats many ALS patients and has training in this medial specialty.

See ALS Association Certified Centers and Clinics and contact your local ALS Association Chapter or the National Office to find an expert in your area.