Autonomic Nervous System Testing

  • Frederick K. Nahm
  • Roy Freeman


Autonomic testing encompasses an array of procedures that can be used to assess a variety of symptoms ranging from lightheadedness and dizziness to anhydrosis to constipation and urinary incontinence. A number of procedures are available for testing of the many varied aspects of both the parasympafhetic and sympathetic nervous systems. These tests include Valsalva maneuver testing, RR interval testing, tilt-table testing, microneurography, and the thermoregulatory sweat test. This chapter reviews the basic neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the autonomie nervous system and the tests that are most effective in their evaluation.

Key Words

Anhydrosis hypotension lightheadedness neuropathy parasympathetic sympathetic 


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Suggested Reading

  1. Clinical autonomic testing report of the therapeutics and technology assessment subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology 1996;46: 873–880.Google Scholar
  2. Low PA. Laboratory evaluation of autonomic function. In: Clinical Autonomie Disorders, 2nd ed. (Low PA, ed.). Lippincott-Raven, Philadelphia, PA, 1997.Google Scholar
  3. Primer on the Autonomic Nervous System (Robertson D, Low PA, Polinsky RJ, eds.). Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 1996.Google Scholar
  4. Autonomic Failure—A Textbook of Clinical Disorders of the Autonomic Nervous System, 4th ed. (Mathias CJ, Bannister R, eds.). Oxford University Press, Oxford, England and New York, NY, 2001, p. 592.Google Scholar
  5. Freeman R. Noninvasive evaluation of heart rate variability. In: Clinical Autonomie Disorders, 2nd ed. (Low PA, ed.). Lippincott-Raven, Philadelphia, PA, 1997, pp. 297–307.Google Scholar
  6. The Autonomie Nervous System: An Introduction to Basic and Clinical Concepts, 5th ed. (Appenzeller O, Oribe E, eds.). Elsevier Science, New York, NY, 1997, p. 868.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frederick K. Nahm
    • 1
  • Roy Freeman
    • 2
  1. 1.Yale New Haven Health SystemsGreenwich
  2. 2.Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBoston

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