1582 - Detection of Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) antibodies in serum of cerebrospinal fluid for diagnosis of Neuromyelitis optica (NMO)

Page last updated: 18 August 2021

Application Detail

Description of Medical Service

It is proposed that a new test is listed to investigate the presence of neuromyelitis optica by the detection of aquaporin 4 antibodies in serum and/or CSF (cerebrospinal fluid). The disease can be diagnosed by other methods, however this test provides a rapid diagnosis in young people. This test helps with diagnosis of neuromyelitis optica and it leads to specific treatment early in the course of the disease.

Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) testing has been in clinical use for 10 years. Currently, NMO is tested under generic MBS (Medicare Benefits Schedule) item 71119 – ‘antibodies to tissue antigens not elsewhere specified’. This item is funded at a lower level than providers currently bill for NMO.

Description of Medical Condition

This disease is similar to multiple sclerosis and presents with optic neuritis and spinal cord inflammation that can lead to paraplegia and blindness. NMO primarily affects young women (relapsing NMO), but both genders can develop monophasic NMO. NMO attacks optic nerves and the spinal cord, resulting in blindness and paralysis. NMO is similar to multiple sclerosis; however, there is a much lower frequency of brain lesions in NMO. NMO can be detected via the presence of aquaporin 4 antibodies in serum and/or cerebrospinal fluid. NMO treatment can include glucocorticoids, azathioprine, plasmapheresis, intravenous immunoglobulin, and anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody. Early treatment in the course of the disease can have a significant impact on patient outcomes.

Reason for Application

Referral from the MBS Taskforce

Medical Service Type


Previous Application Number/s

Not Applicable

Associated Documentation

Application Form


Consultation Survey

Consultation Survey (PDF 486 KB)
Consultation Survey (Word 70 KB)

PICO Confirmation

PICO Confirmation (PDF 1925 KB)
PICO Confirmation (Word 1467 KB)

Assessment Report

Assessment Report (PDF 2717 KB)
Assessment Report (Word 2232 KB)

Public Summary Document

Public Summary Document (PDF 734 KB)
Public Summary Document (Word 411 KB)

Meetings for this Application


5-6 December 2019


12 June 2020


28-29 July 2020