Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your speaking difficulty may be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist to diagnose the type of dysarthria you may have. This can be helpful to the neurologist who will be responsible for finding the underlying cause.

To diagnose your condition, your doctor may review your medical history and conduct a thorough physical exam. Your doctor may also order several tests to investigate possible underlying causes, including:

  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests, including magnetic resonance imaging or a computerized tomography scan, create detailed images of your brain, head and neck that may help identify the cause of your speech problem.
  • Brain and nerve studies. You may have brain and nerve studies to pinpoint the source of your symptoms and help diagnose the underlying cause of your condition. An electroencephalogram measures electrical activity in your brain. An electromyogram evaluates electrical activity in your nerves as they transmit messages to your muscles. Nerve conduction studies measure the strength and speed of the electrical signals as they travel through your nerves to your muscles.
  • Blood and urine tests. Blood and urine tests can help determine if an infectious or inflammatory disease may be causing your symptoms.
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap). In this procedure, a doctor or nurse inserts a needle in your lower back to remove a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid for testing in the laboratory. A lumbar puncture can help diagnose serious infections, disorders of the central nervous system, and cancers of the brain or spinal cord.
  • Brain biopsy. If a brain tumor is suspected, your doctor may remove a small sample of your brain tissue to test.
  • Neuropsychological tests. You may have neuropsychological tests to measure your thinking (cognitive) skills, your ability to understand speech, your ability to understand reading and writing, and other skills. Your cognitive skills and understanding of speech and writing often aren't affected by dysarthria, although you have difficulty speaking. However, underlying conditions can affect your cognitive skills.
May. 24, 2012