The most useful investigative tools of neurology

Neurology is a difficult field where things are hardly ever straightforward. The neurological history is often convoluted. Neurological symptoms are frequently vague and imprecise, and neurological signs are often duplicitious. Worse still, the neurological terrain is littered with mimics and chameleons, constituting a veritable boobytrap.

Brain. Ivo Dimitrov on Flickr.

This nature of neurology has led to a proliferation of tests, all geared at establishing some order amidst the chaos. Neurologists and their patients look up to these tests to narrow down the harrowing differential diagnostic list, and quickly confirm a diagnosis with some modicum of certainty. As the pantheon of neurology is stretched to the limit with more novel diagnoses, so has the number of tests mushroomed exponentially in a futile attempt to tame the neurological beast. Whilst these new and fancy tests are often helpful, the wise practitioner knows that there usefulness falls short of the hype. On the other hand, some tests have stood the test of time in their value to the neurologist. Here we list the most useful investigative tools of neurology.

brain v.1. Amy Leonard on Flickr.
By © Nevit Dilmen, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link


Electromyography (EMG)

Nerve conduction studies (NCS)

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

Evoked potentials

By Dr. Jana – ;, CC BY 4.0, Link


Stroke imaging

Computerised tomography (CT)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Carotid artery imaging

Transcranial doppler (TCD)


This is my brain. Kenny Stoltz on Flickr.

Tissue biopsy

By Gaetan Lee from London, UK – Human brain – please add comment or fav this if you blog with it., CC BY 2.0, Link
By HibbyOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link


These are the basic investigative tools of neurology. This is a list that has been stripped to the bones; you may however explore all neurological tests and procedures, elementary and specialised, in the comprehensive Neurochecklists.

Oxygen pathways in the brain. Viktor Brezinsky on Flickr.



Published by:

Ibrahim Imam

I am a UK Neurologist keen on general neurology, but with an interest in neuromuscular diseases. I maintain the neurology searchable database, I share and discuss current issues around clinical neurology. I hope you find this blog enlightening, practical, and even entertaining.

Categories General, InvestigationsLeave a comment

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