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Diagnosis Neurology & Neurosurgery

Peripheral Neuropathy

A crucial part of diagnosing neuropathy is to identify the cause of the underlying condition. Both physical and neurological exams will be performed. A number of tests may be used to determine the underlying cause of neuropathy and rule out other conditions. Along with blood and urine tests, the following also may be performed:

  • Electroencephalography (EEG) This test records electrical activity inside the brain.
  • Spinal Tap During this test, also called a lumbar puncture, a special needle is placed into the lower back in the spinal canal, the area around the spinal cord. A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) is removed for testing. CSF is the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) A CT scan is a series of detailed pictures of the brain, created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) This scan provides pictures of the brain, using a powerful magnet linked to a computer.
  • Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) Studies These studies record the speed at which impulses travel through nerves and measure electrical responses.
  • Electromyography (EMG) This test records the electrical activity in muscle tissue and is used to distinguish neuropathy from other neurological conditions.

In addition, your doctor may suggest a nerve or muscle biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Biopsy involves removing tissue for microscopic evaluation and chemical analysis.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.