Testing & Diagnosis for Myasthenia Gravis in Children

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Contact the Neuromuscular Center

At Boston Children’s Hospital, we know that the first step in treating your child’s juvenile myasthenia gravis (JMG) is to form an accurate and complete diagnosis. Our Neuromuscular Center uses a number of different tests to help us accurately diagnose your child’s disorder and evaluate his condition.

How is Juvenile Myasthenia Gravis diagnosed?

There will be a physical exam, during which your child's physician will take your child’s complete medical history, and may also ask if there is a family history of any medical problems.

The diagnostic tests your child might require include:

  • Antibody titer tests measure the presence of antibodies that are attacking the child’s neuromuscular system. If the titers are positive, this strongly suggests that your child has JMG.
  • Repetitive nerve stimulation is a useful way of diagnosing JMG and is performed during an electromyography study (EMG). The technique involves the stimulating specific nerves and examining abnormal muscle movements.
  • Tensilon tests are sometimes used to confirm a diagnosis of JMG.  During this test, your child will get an injection of a small amount of a medicine called Tensilon. If JMG is present, the diagnostician will notice an immediate, brief increase in muscle tone.
  • Stimulated single fiber EMG (SSFEMG) is a specialized test that is also performed in the EMG Laboratory.  It is sometimes used when other diagnostic tests for JMG are negative or inconclusive and the clinical suspicion is high.
  • Genetic tests, which evaluate the likeliness that congenital myasthenic syndrome (CMS) is present based on your child's genes.  Genetic testing is not used for the diagnosis of JMG.

How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches JMG:

Since 1977, thousands of children have been successfully diagnosed and treated at the Neuromuscular Center where they are evaluated and treated by a team of world-renowned experts in child neurology, orthopedics and genetics.

The Department of Ophthalmology and the Pediatric Ophthalmology Program at Boston Children’s also uses both medical and surgical approaches to treat a wide range of eye conditions caused by neurological disorders such as myasthenia gravis. We use the most advanced diagnostic and treatment methods available and incorporate minimally invasive techniques whenever possible.

Our teams will work together with your family to develop treatment plans that meet your child's unique needs and provide him with the best possible quality of life.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944