EEG in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Clin Neurophysiol. 2006 May;117(5):935-51. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2005.12.007. Epub 2006 Jan 25.


Electroecenphalography (EEG) is an integral part of the diagnostic process in patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). The EEG has therefore been included in the World Health Organisation diagnostic classification criteria of CJD. In sporadic CJD (sCJD), the EEG exhibits characteristic changes depending on the stage of the disease, ranging from nonspecific findings such as diffuse slowing and frontal rhythmic delta activity (FIRDA) in early stages to disease-typical periodic sharp wave complexes (PSWC) in middle and late stages to areactive coma traces or even alpha coma in preterminal EEG recordings. PSWC, either lateralized (in earlier stages) or generalized, occur in about two-thirds of patients with sCJD, with a positive predictive value of 95%. PSWC occur in patients with methionine homozygosity and methionine/valine heterozygosity but only rarely in patients with valine homozygosity at codon 129 of the prion protein gene. PSWC tend to disappear during sleep and may be attenuated by sedative medication and external stimulation. Seizures are an uncommon finding, occurring in less than 15% of patients with sCJD. In patients with iatrogenic CJD, PSWC usually present with more regional EEG findings corresponding to the site of inoculation of the transmissible agent. In genetic CJD, PSWC in its typical form are uncommon, occurring in about 10%. No PSWC occur in EEG recordings of patients with variant CJD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / genetics
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Delta Rhythm*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests