Exams and Tests for Ankylosing Spondylitis

How your doctor evaluates you for ankylosing spondylitis and the information tests provide

Written by Christopher I. Shaffrey, MD

The diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) starts with a thorough review of your medical and family history, as AS can be hereditary. Next, an in-depth physical and neurological examination is performed, which include five  is the first step your doctor takes during his To diagnose ankylosing spondylitis, the doctor will go through a typical diagnostic process that includes exams and tests. He or she will also ask about your general health and family medical history because ankylosing spondylitis can be hereditary. Most likely, the doctor will also order a blood workup to look for the HLA-B27 antigen.

Physical Exam
A physical examination for ankylosing spondylitis often includes the following:

Neurologic Evaluation
A neurologic evaluation makes an assessment of your sensory and motor functions, which includes reflexes and muscle strength. Your doctor also reviews your symptoms, such as pain, numbness, tingling sensations, muscle spasms, weakness, and bowel and bladder function.

Radiographic Evidence
Plain radiographs (x-rays) are standard for ankylosing spondylosis. A CT scan or MRI may be ordered to evaluate bone and soft tissues (eg, the spinal canal) in greater detail. These tests reveal changes in the spine affected by AS. As the doctor studies your images, he or she may be looking for the following signs:

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Ankylosing Spondylitis Animation