It took three months from the time I walked in to a doctor's office to be diagnosed with MS. I likely had symptoms of MS, though, for several years before I finally went to a neuro to be tested. (This was long before MRI's existed. By the time I walked into that office I had all kinds of obvious clinical signs.) The doctor ran evoked potential testing, did a spinal tap, had me come in repeatedly to test for clinical signs, and finally determined that I had MS.
The problem that you're referring to -- doctors dismissing patients as "unimportant" -- boils down to this: Doctors are scientists by training. If they can't PROVE something is wrong -- by test results coming back "positive", and consistent clinical signs, they're not going to ASSUME something is wrong, just because a patient says so. No matter how evident a patient thinks her symptoms are, if a doctor can't "find" them when testing, they're not going to label a patient as having a particular disease or disorder. That's a harsh reality, but there it is.
And I should add this: There are lots and lots of disorders that "look alike" from the outside, and which can cause similar problems for a patient. Neurological disorders, autoimmune disorders, infections, and the list goes on -- can produce similar symptoms. Since there is no one definitive test for MS, no one test that - -if it comes back "positive" is "absolute proof" that the patient has MS, everything else has to be eliminated, and/or several tests come back "positive" that point to MS as the diagnosis, before the doctor -- a scientist -- will then reach that conclusion.
How long will this take? As long as necessary for enough testing to come back to point specifically to which disease is ailing the patient. If, say, there are lesions in the brain, AND obvious testable repeatable clinical signs of MS, AND the patient has had 2 or more episodes separated in time and space that point to MS, then the diagnosis can come quickly. Some folks are diagnosed right away because there are obvious "positive" test results.
Other folks don't have those obvious test results, and because of their health histories, there are possiblities of other things going on -- migraine, infection, other disorders. And it takes awhile for all that to be sorted out. Could be months, could even be years, before there are enough definitive testable repeatable signs and symptoms for a doctor to make a diagnosis.
...I am not a doctor, nor health professional, and don't pretend to be one, here.....
Post Edited (uppitycats) : 12/15/2006 8:34:32 AM (GMT-7)