Multiple System Atrophy

Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) Evaluation

Appointment New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) can be challenging to diagnose because its symptoms mimic more common diseases such as Parkinson’s. As a result, some people are never properly diagnosed.

UT Southwestern Medical Center brings together specialists who are trained in the diagnosis of MSA. Our multidisciplinary team uses a customized examination process to arrive at an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

After discussing family history and current treatments with a patient and conducting a physical examination, our experts might use several tests to evaluate involuntary (autonomic) body functions, such as:

  • Bladder and bowel function tests to make sure the stomach and bladder are emptying correctly
  • Blood tests to look for or rule out other diseases causing similar symptoms
  • Brain-imaging scans that can show signs of degeneration in the brains of people with MSA and some other neurodegenerative diseases
  • An electrocardiogram to track the electrical signals of the heart
  • A sweat test
  • A tilt table test to assess any irregularities in blood pressure or heart rate that occur when a person’s physical position changes

People who have difficulty sleeping might be evaluated by the Sleep and Breathing Disorders Clinic to determine whether the issue is an underlying and treatable sleep disorder.

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“Hot-cross bun” sign in MSA brain scan