How is it diagnosed?

There is no specific test to diagnose multiple system atrophy.

A diagnosis can usually be made based on the symptoms, although it can potentially be confused with Parkinson's disease.

The box on this page explains how multiple system atrophy is different to Parkinson's disease.

If a doctor (usually a neurologist) suspects multiple system atrophy from a patient's symptoms, they will test the patient's reflexes and "automatic" body functions, such as bladder function. These body functions and responses may be altered in someone with multiple system atrophy.

A brain scan is oftenneeded usually an MRI scan or a SPECT scan (read NHS information on SPECT scans ) to detect any loss of brain cells.

More detailed assessments of autonomic functionmay also be performed for example, recording blood pressure changes when lying and standing.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018