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Bell's Palsy Diagnosis

The first step in reaching a Bell's palsy diagnosis often involves the doctor asking the patient a number of questions. A doctor making a Bell's palsy diagnosis will then perform a physical exam and likely recommend certain tests. When diagnosing Bell's palsy using a physical exam, the doctor will examine the individual for upper and lower facial weakness. While there is no specific laboratory test to confirm a Bell's palsy diagnosis, the doctor may employ imaging tests such as electromyography (EMG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT) scans.

Bell's Palsy Diagnosis: An Introduction

In order to make a Bell's palsy diagnosis, the doctor will ask a number of questions, perform a physical exam, and recommend certain tests. As part of diagnosing Bell's palsy, the doctor will also rule out other causes of facial paralysis. There is no specific laboratory test to confirm a Bell's palsy diagnosis.
 

Diagnosing Bell's Palsy With Physical Exams

If the doctor suspects Bell's palsy, he or she will examine the individual for upper and lower facial weakness. In most cases this weakness is limited to one side of the face or occasionally to the forehead, eyelid, or mouth. A diagnosis of Bell's palsy can be made if the person has a distorted facial appearance and the inability to move muscles on the affected side of the face.
 

Diagnosing Bell's Palsy With Imaging Tests

To help see the amount of damage and rule out other possible causes of facial paralysis, the doctor could recommend several tests, including:
 
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan.
     
An EMG can confirm the presence of nerve damage and determine the severity and the extent of nerve involvement. An x-ray of the skull can help rule out infection or tumor. An MRI or CT scan can eliminate other causes of pressure on the facial nerve.
 
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Information on Bell's Palsy

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