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Multiple System Atrophy Diagnosis

At this time, there are no specific symptoms, blood tests or imaging studies that distinguish MSA. Instead, doctors rely on a combination of symptom history, physical examination, and laboratory tests to evaluate the motor system, coordination, and autonomic function to arrive at a probable diagnosis.

Despite the diagnostic challenge MSA poses, recent research has yielded promising results in ways that may help unravel the causes and detection of this disease. Medical technology such as functional MRI (fMRI) measures activity levels in the brain and can demonstrate areas of impaired brain function.

Additionally, by applying sensitive pattern recognition techniques to certain MRI studies, medical science is increasingly differentiating the early signs of MSA from Parkinson’s disease and other neurologic conditions with greater accuracy.

New studies are also finding that a particular type of lipid-transporting molecule important for production of myelin might be faulty in MSA patients and that evaluating this molecule, known as ABCA8, could provide a causative explanation and a screening tool for MSA.

New Diagnostic Criteria for Multiple System Atrophy

In Aprill 2022, the Movement Disorder Society (MDS) Task Force on MSA Criteria Revision reached an important milestone with its publication of the new Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) diagnostic criteria.

Last revised in 2008, the second consensus criteria for the diagnosis of MSA are widely recognized as the reference standard for clinical research but lack sensitivity to diagnose the disease at early stages.

The MDS Taskforce was chaired by Dr. Gregor Wenning (Left), MSA Coalition Board Member, and Dr. Horacio Kaufmann (Right) along with over a dozen other team members and consultants from around the world.

We are proud to share that an unrestricted MSA Coalition grant has allowed for open access of this publication as we believe our community members should have full access to the latest information about this disease.

Access the full publication here.


For all references listed in the About MSA section please download the MSA Coalition's "MSA - What You Need to Know"

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