Sentara has the only mid-Atlantic comprehensive autonomic center
The Sentara Neuromuscular and Autonomic Center continues to lead the innovation charge in diagnosing autonomic nervous system (ANS) disorders with its comprehensive program that includes a Thermoregulatory Sweat Testing (TST) chamber – the only one of its kind in the mid-Atlantic. One of only 20 in the nation, the comprehensive center is led by a unique autonomic neurologist and care team that specializes in treating nerve disorders that affect involuntary body functions like our heart rate, blood pressure, sweat and digestion.
"Autonomic disorders are often very difficult to diagnose and these patients suffer significantly both emotionally and physically," said Dr. Kamal Chémali, director of the Sentara Neuromuscular and Autonomic Center. "With our tools and expert care team, we are able to give patients a diagnosis that they've been seeking for years, and that's an incredible thing."
Common symptoms of autonomic disorders can include dizziness or fainting when standing, difficulty digesting food, sweating abnormalities or sluggish pupil reaction. After assessing these symptoms, experts at the center can perform a variety of tests to help identify a diagnoses including:
- Heart Rate Variability to Deep Breathing, which tests the integrity of the cardiac parasympathetic system
- Valsalva Maneuver, which tests the integrity of the cardiovascular sympathetic and parasympathetic systems
- The Tilt Table Test, which tests cardiovascular responses in the supine and upright positions
- Quantitative Sudomotor Axon Reflex Test (QSART), which tests the small fiber system of the ANS that controls sweat glands
- TST, which tests the total sudomotor (sweat-producing) system diagnosed by different sweat patterns in a monitored heated environment
- Infrared Dynamic Pupillometry (IDP), which tests the integrity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the ANS at the pupil of the eye
Since July 2013, Dr. Chémali and his multidisciplinary team overseeing the autonomic lab have served patients in need from across the U.S. and all corners of the world. And, most patients seeking treatment from the center have already seen an average of 10 physicians before arriving at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
"Often times, our patients have been fully evaluated by other specialized physicians that are unable to give them answers," Chémali elaborated. "Being able to help these patients resume normal lives and to give them hope for the future is what keeps us motivated and focused on our mission to improve health every day."