FAQs about myasthenia gravis diagnosis
Whether a test for myasthenia gravis will be covered by health insurance will depend on a person’s individual healthcare plan. Patients should speak with their insurance provider to understand the type of coverage they have. The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a patient assistance program for people with myasthenia gravis living in the U.S.; its goal is to offer financial support to people facing limited resources to pay for specific healthcare costs, including physician-prescribed laboratory and diagnostic tests.
After a thorough physical and neurological exam, a blood test looking for common myasthenia gravis-causing antibodies is the main way doctors diagnose the disease. In some cases, physicians may use a range of other tests to assess a person’s nerve and muscle function to confirm the diagnosis.
The length of time it will take to receive the results of a blood test for myasthenia gravis depends on several factors and will vary by testing location. In general, it may range from a few days to a few weeks. Patients who undergo blood testing for the disease should speak with their healthcare team about when they can expect results.
As with many diseases, an earlier diagnosis of myasthenia gravis typically is associated with a sooner start on treatment and more beneficial outcomes. If myasthenia gravis is left untreated, muscle weakness may progress faster and patients may be at a higher risk of experiencing myasthenic crises, a life-threatening disease complication. Still, every person’s disease course differs and there is no way of knowing exactly how a person’s disease will progress either with or without a diagnosis.
A number of different healthcare professionals may be involved in the diagnosis of myasthenia gravis, depending on a patient’s symptoms, and may include primary care physicians and neurologists. In many cases, eye-related problems are among the first symptoms of the disease, so ophthalmologists may play a role in the diagnosis of myasthenia gravis.