MSA Diagnosis and Evaluation

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

UT Southwestern 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.

Diagnostic Tests

“Hot-cross bun” sign in MSA brain scan
“Hot-cross bun” sign in MSA brain scan

After discussing your family history and current treatments and conducting a physical examination, we may perform the following tests to make a diagnosis: 

  • Tilt table test to assess the autonomic nervous system. In this procedure, your blood pressure and heart rate are monitored while you are strapped in place on a special table that will tilt you to an almost upright position. This allows your physician to record irregularities in your blood pressure and determine whether they occur with a change in physical position.
  • Blood tests
  • A sweat test to evaluate autonomic function failure
  • Bladder and bowel function tests to make sure your stomach and bladder are emptying correctly
  • An electrocardiogram to track the electrical signals of your heart
  • Brain-imaging scans

If you have difficulty sleeping, you may be evaluated by the Sleep and Breathing Disorders Clinic to determine whether the issue is an underlying and treatable sleep disorder.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a multiple system atrophy specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas, or to learn more about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.