Unfortunately, a delay in diagnosis of one or two years is not unusual in cases of MG. Weakness is a common symptom of many other disorders. The diagnosis is often missed in people who have mild weakness or in those whose weakness is restricted to only a few muscles.
The first steps of diagnosing MG include a review of the person's medical history and physical and neurological exams. If the doctor suspects MG, several tests are available to confirm the diagnosis.
Antibody blood test. A special blood test can detect the antibodies that prevent nerves from signaling to muscles. While most people with MG have abnormally high levels of these antibodies, some individuals (about 10 percent) can actually test negative for antibodies. And, antibodies may not be detected if only eye muscles are affected.
Edrophonium test. When this drug is injected, the weak eye muscles of people with MG will briefly get stronger.
Nerve conduction test/repetitive stimulation. This is a test of specific muscle fatigue by repetitive nerve stimulation.
Single fiber electromyography (EMG). In this test, pairs of single muscle fibers are stimulated by electrical impulses. It can detect impaired nerve-to-muscle transmission.
Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tests can help identify an abnormal thymus gland or a thymus gland tumor.
Last Updated: Jul 27, 2009