Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Progressive supranuclear palsy can be difficult to diagnose because signs and symptoms are similar to those of Parkinson's disease. Indications that you have progressive supranuclear palsy rather than Parkinson's disease include:

  • A lack of shaking (tremors)
  • A poor response to Parkinson's medications
  • Difficulty moving your eyes, particularly downward

Your doctor may recommend MRI to determine if you have shrinkage in specific regions of the brain associated with progressive supranuclear palsy. MRI can also help to exclude disorders that may mimic progressive supranuclear palsy, such as stroke.

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan also may be recommended to check for early signs of brain abnormalities that may not appear on MRI. Researchers are working to develop medical tests that can diagnose progressive supranuclear palsy.

Mayo Clinic researchers discovered that some people with progressive supranuclear palsy develop speech problems (apraxia of speech) years before experiencing other symptoms. This speech problem may be the first sign of progressive supranuclear palsy.

April 10, 2014