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The Neurodiagnostics Lab at UT Southwestern Medical Center offers the latest innovations in diagnostic techniques and the most advanced technology available. Our physicians are experts in providing an accurate diagnosis to create an effective treatment plan.

Techniques and Technology for Accurate Diagnosis

Neurodiagnostics help doctors determine whether the brain, spinal cord, and/or peripheral nervous system are functioning properly. The nervous system relies on tiny electrical signals that travel through the central and peripheral nervous systems, carrying instructions from the brain to the rest of the body and also carrying sensory information from the body back to the brain. An interruption in those signals sometimes results in loss of function in a limb, sensory deficits, coordination problems, or gait dysfunction. 

The Neurodiagnostics Lab at UT Southwestern conducts a wide range of comprehensive imaging, electrical impulse detection, and other neurodiagnostic procedures to help doctors quickly diagnose a problem and craft a solution.

Conditions

Using neurodiagnostics, we can diagnose a variety of dysfunctions in the nervous system, such as:

Diagnostic Procedures

Neurodiagnostic analysis might involve several tests to pinpoint a condition or rule out others. Depending on the test, the patient can be awake or asleep during the procedure. 

Imaging

Imaging tests include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans, X-rays, or positron emission tomography (PET) scans. 

Specific tests include:

  • 3-D rotational angiography: An X-ray study that looks inside the veins and arteries to detect cerebral, abdominal, or peripheral vascular abnormalities such as aneurysms
  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA): Used to visualize the arteries and veins throughout various parts of the body; often used with conditions such as strokes
  • Diagnostic and interventional cerebral angiography: Provides images of the veins and arteries in and around the brain; used with conditions such as strokes
  • High-field MRI: Assesses brain alterations; used with strokes
  • Magnetic resonance perfusion: Uses injected dye to see blood flow through tissue; used with strokes
  • Transcranial doppler and carotid doppler: Tests blood flow in the arteries of the brain and neck; used in strokes and cerebral vascular diseases 

Electrophysiological Studies 

Electrophysiological studies include electroencephalography (EEG), a measure of electrical activity in the brain, as well as electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS). EMG uses a concentric needle to record the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles and yields very important diagnostic information. Alongside EMG, nerve conduction studies test how well and how quickly a motor and sensory nerve can send an electrical impulse. 

Other specific diagnostic tests include:

  • Evoked potential: Stimulates a specific area of the body and records the signals as they travel to the spinal cord and a specific area of the brain; often used with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Quantitative sensory testing (QST): Assesses damage to nerve endings; used for neuromuscular conditions
  • Quantitative autonomic testing or autonomic reflex screen (ARS): Assesses sudomotor, cardiovagal, or adrenergic responses in many conditions, such as fainting, Parkinson’s disease, and rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Repetitive nerve stimulation: Assesses weakening muscle responses when nerves are stimulated, can differentiate nerve disorders from muscular disorders, and is often used with myasthenia gravis; UT Southwestern is the only center in the Dallas-Fort Worth region to offer this test to diagnose myasthenia gravis
  • Routine and single-fiber electromyography: Measures electrical activity between the brain and a specific muscle or a fiber of a specific muscle; used in neuromuscular conditions such as myasthenia gravis 

UT Southwestern offers several other diagnostic services, such as:

  • Cognitive testing: Used for memory disorders
  • Gait analysis: Measures and analyzes walking patterns; used in conditions such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease
  • Ocular physiology: Studies the function and activities of the eye and its parts; often used for multiple sclerosis
  • Optic nerve testing: Detects visual problems with the nerve that carries visual signals from the eye to the brain; commonly used with multiple sclerosis
  • Skin, muscle, and nerve biopsies: Takes small samples of tissue from the body for examination to identify and diagnose specific disorders

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