How Diagnosis Works

Navigating an NMOSD diagnosis

NMOSD, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.

Artwork of a patient with NMOSD, their loved one, and a person walking a dog; there are also multiple astrocytes

How NMOSD is diagnosed

The journey to diagnosis can be long, with the disease sometimes being misdiagnosed. NMOSD is a distinct disease from other central nervous system diseases like multiple sclerosis. Most people with NMOSD test positive for anti-aquaporin-4 autoantibodies (anti-AQP4 antibody positive).

A neurologist can confirm an NMOSD diagnosis by:

  • Evidence of a positive blood test for NMOSD-specific antibodies
  • At least 1 to 2 core symptoms of the disease, such as eye pain or muscle weakness
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, spinal cord, and/or optic nerve
  • Identification of certain patterns in symptoms, such as location and extent of tissue damage

Discover the steps to an anti-AQP4 antibody-positive NMOSD diagnosis


Talk to your doctor

Get these helpful tips for talking to your doctor and bring them to your next appointment.


Request a cell-based assay

A simple blood test, preferably a cell-based assay, for anti-AQP4 antibodies associated with NMOSD is a crucial part of an accurate diagnosis.


Discuss management options

Getting a proper diagnosis as soon as possible is essential to help reduce the risk of further symptom attacks.

In addition to a blood antibody test, a doctor's diagnosis of NMOSD is based on a patient's medical history, physical exam, and a variety of specialized tests. Some of these tests may include an examination of cerebrospinal fluid, MRI, or optical coherence tomography.