I have recently had an MRI because of migraines becoming more frequent and severe. The neurologist explained to me that I had a somewhat larger amount of white matter in the center of my brain that transversed it. He told me it was not uncommon to see an increased amount of in people with migraines, but this seemed to be a bit larger than just from migraines, possibly indicating the beginnings of MS. He gave me a choice of having a spinal tap to tell fairly certainly if this was MS or not, or wait 6 months and have another MRI and see if there were any differences at that time. First, I would like to know the connection of white matter with migraines and MS. Also, how accurate is the spinal tap and is it something I should do to get a jump on MS if in fact that is what I have? I don't want to go through with this procedure if it won't tell me if I do or do not have MS or if the 6 month wait isn't harmful. This is the first time for an MRI and I am in a state of shock/worry. Any help you can give me is greatly appreciated.
I'm not a doctor, but do have migraines that mimic MS. When my migraines changed and became more frequent I had testing done to rule out MS and other autoimmune disorders. A spinal tap will show certain abnormalities in the fluid that are common with MS - an abnormal autoimmune response within the brain and spinal cord, meaning that the body is attacking itself. If you are afraid of having the tap done at this time there is another test that can be done that does not involve needles. I had this test done along with brain and full spinal MRI.
Evoked potential tests measure electrical activity in certain areas of the brain in response to stimulation of certain groups of nerves. These tests are a great tool in diagnosing or ruling out MS since they they can indicate problems along the pathways of certain nerves that are too subtle to be noticed or found on a doctor's exam. You may want to bring this one up to your Neurologist as a testing option. I had it done and passed with flying colors, although it did trigger a migraine for me. The testing takes some time and is not comfortable, but is much better than waiting six months for the second MRI or drawing fluid from the spine when you don't need to.
The three main types of evoked potentials that should be performed are:
Visual Evoked Potentials (VEP): You sit in front of a screen on which an alternating checkerboard pattern is displayed - this one got my migraine going...
Brain stem Auditory Evoked Potentials (BAEP): You hear a series of clicks in each ear.
Sensory Evoked Potentials (SEP): Short electrical impulses are administered to the arm and leg - this one is not comfortable at all since it feels like stinging bees or an intense falling asleep feeling in the hand or foot... I found out halfway through this one that I could request the intensity to be turned down - it wasn't as bad after that, LOL...
You have some idea of what to expect if you push for this test and I would if I were you. A spinal tap is scary and waiting six months even scarier.
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