Purpose: To define the role of MRI in the diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).
Methods: 14 patients with suspected CJD were studied within 3 years. MRI findings were correlated with WHO established diagnostic criteria (clinical findings, EEG, CSF with 14-3-3 protein assay).
Results: 12 patients had CJD. One patient each suffered from Hashimoto's encephalitis and ALS dementia complex, respectively. Nine of 12 CJD patients had increased signal intensity of the striatum (n = 8), pulvinar thalami (n = 5) and/or cerebellar and cerebral cortex (n = 3), respectively. Signal intensity was most pronounced on FLAIR sequences; six patients were studied with diffusion-weighted MRI and showed impaired diffusion in these areas. Both patients without CJD did not show the abovementioned signal changes (sensitivity 75%, specificity and positive predictive value 100%, respectively).
Conclusion: If patients with suspected CJD are studied with FLAIR and diffusion-weighted sequences, this disorder can reliably be proven or ruled out. Typical MRI findings narrow down the differential diagnosis and should be included in the WHO diagnostic criteria.