Tensilon test

What is a Tensilon Test?

A Tensilon test, also known as an edrophonium test, is a diagnostic procedure used to diagnose myasthenia gravis (MG), a serious neuromuscular disorder. It involves injecting a drug called edrophonium chloride into a patient's vein and then, measuring changes in muscle strength which is used to identify a diagnosis of MG.

Preparation for a Tensilon Test

Prior to a Tensilon test, it is important to inform the doctor of any allergies or medications taken. This is particularly important if allergic reactions have occurred while taking certain medications, including antibiotics, painkillers, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as these can interfere with the test results. Additionally, it is recommended to avoid smoking or drinking alcohol prior to the test, as these can also interfere with the results.

Tensilon Test Procedure

The Tensilon test is performed by a healthcare provider such as a neurologist, and typically occurs in a medical setting such as a hospital, clinic or physician's office. The patient will lie down, allowing for easy access to their veins. The healthcare provider then injects the edrophonium chloride, which can create a sensation similar to a muscle twitch in the arm or leg. The doctor will observe the patient carefully to detect any changes in muscle strength. Depending on the results, additional tests may be needed to confirm diagnosis.

Types of Tensilon Tests

The most common Tensilon test used to diagnose MG is the intravenous (IV) edrophonium chloride injection test. This involves injecting the medication directly into a vein, usually in the arm or hand. Another type of Tensilon test is the subcutaneous edrophonium chloride injection test, which involves injecting the drug into the patient's skin instead.

Risks of Tensilon Testing

The Tensilon test is generally considered safe, although there may be some risks associated with the procedure. These risks include nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, low blood pressure, dizziness, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. It is important that the patient is closely monitored during and after the test to ensure that any side effects are addressed.

Why a Tensilon Test Is Done

A Tensilon test is done to diagnose myasthenia gravis. This disorder is characterized by muscle weakness, fatigue, and abnormal blinking, which can be difficult to diagnose without a Tensilon test.  The drug edrophonium chloride temporarily blocks the nerve impulses that are often affected in people with MG, making it easier to detect the disorder.

When to Have a Tensilon Test

A Tensilon test may be recommended if a patient shows signs or symptoms of myasthenia gravis, such as muscle weakness or fatigue, difficulty speaking, facial weakness or inability to keep the eyes open. In some cases, a Tensilon test may be recommended even if the patient does not show any signs of MG; this is often done to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.