Have MRI scans replaced lumbar punctures?

In this video Paul interviews Dr Tony Traboulsee who is a Neurologist. The interview was filmed by Millar

Video transcript

Paul asks Tony if there’s any need for lumbar punctures given the widespread use of MRI scans.

So, given that MRI is becoming sort of pervasive nowadays, is there any scope for doing lumbar puncture any more?

We still do some lumbar punctures, because at the end of the day, MS diagnosis isn’t one test, it’s really looking at the individual, what symptoms they’ve had, their neurological examination and the MRI supports that diagnosis, the spinal tap supports it. We do it a lot less than we used to, because MRI has replaced it, but there are some challenges where, you’ve probably met a lot of people, where they weren’t sure if they had MS, it took a long delay to establish the diagnosis, they had maybe different features, or they were concerned they had a different disease, like Lyme disease. And so because we didn’t have a single blood test that makes the diagnosis of MS, depending on the individual, we might have to dig a bit deeper and do more tests to get a more accurate diagnosis.

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