A rapidly progressing dementia, followed by focal neurological signs, and evidence of periodic sharp wave complexes (PSWC) in the EEG may lead to the clinical suspicion of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Different clinical variants of CJD have been described in the past, with prominent extrapyramidal or occipital lobe involvement, all included in the sporadic form of CJD (sCJD). Familiar and iatrogenic forms of CJD are also known. More recently a new variant has been described, vCJD , casually linked to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and it has attracted increasing attention toward each form of rapidly progressing dementia; likewise the differential diagnosis between sCJD vs. vCJD is not always easy. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) too seems to have a peculiar role in differentiating sCJD from vCJD, even if the role of MRI in the diagnosis of CJD is still debated. Diffusion MRI is expected to play an important role in the clinical setting of CJD, contributing to formulation of an early diagnosis, especially in cases with unusual clinical presentation. In fact, the sensitivity of diffusion MRI is superior to that of conventional MRI (T1, T2, FLAIR) in detecting specific basal ganglia and cortical abnormalities early in the course of CJD  and these abnormalities correlate well with areas of the most severe and characteristic neuropathological changes . We describe a case of autopsy-proven sCJD, with an unusual clinical course without dementia as a presenting symptom and discuss the role of diffusion MRI and laboratory tests in making an early diagnosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology