What are evoked potentials?

Evoked potentials are used to measure the electrical activity in certain areas of the brain and spinal cord. Electrical activity is produced by stimulation of specific sensory nerve pathways. These tests are used in combination with other diagnostic tests to assist in the diagnosis of neurological disorders.

Evoked potentials test and record how quickly and completely the nerve signals reach the brain. Evoked potentials are used because they can indicate problems along nerve pathways that are too subtle to show up during a neurologic examination or to be noticed by the patient. The disruption may not even be visible on MRI exam.

These tests can be helpful in making the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological disorders. Evoked potentials are used to show abnormalities in the function of nerve pathways that can be caused by neurological disorders.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/28/2019.

References

  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Evoked Potentials. Accessed 3/21/2019.
  • Walsh P, Kane N, Butler S. The clinical role of evoked potentials. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2005;76 Suppl 2:ii16-22.

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