Lateralized and focal clinical, EEG, and FLAIR MRI abnormalities in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Denise M. Cambier, Kejal Kantarci, Gregory A. Worrell, Barbara F. Westmoreland, Allen J. Aksamit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Objective: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rapidly progressive fatal prion disorder with typical clinical findings of dementia, motor dysfunction, and myoclonus and characteristic electroencephalographic (EEG) findings of bilateral synchronous periodic sharp waves. Advances in neuroimaging capabilities with diffusion-weighted and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques have shown promise in the non-invasive diagnosis of CJD. This series illustrates the correlation between the lateralized and focal clinical, EEG, and MRI FLAIR sequence abnormalities in 8 patients (7 men and one woman 55-73 years old) with CJD. Methods: A case series of 8 patients, evaluated at Mayo Clinic, who had a history of rapidly progressive lateralized or focal neurologic dysfunction and laboratory findings consistent with CJD between 1996 and 1999 were identified. EEG, MRI of the head with FLAIR sequence, and cerebrospinal fluid studies were performed in all patients. Results: Mean time to death from symptom onset was 4 months. Symptoms were lateralized to the left hemisphere in 5 patients and to the right hemisphere in two. One patient showed bilateral occipital lobe involvement. In all patients, the EEG showed lateralized or focal periodic sharp waves that colocalized with clinical cerebral dysfunction. FLAIR MRI images revealed increased signal in the cortical ribbon and deep gray matter corresponding to the lateralized clinical and EEG findings in 7 patients. The other patient had bilateral occipital increased signal on FLAIR MRI. Conclusions: CJD may present with lateralized or focal cortical syndromes with colocalizing EEG and MRI findings. With the appropriate clinical history and laboratory evaluation, the corresponding areas of increased signal on FLAIR MRI provide supportive evidence of the disease. Significance: CJD can sometimes present with more focal or lateralized clinical findings, and the colocalizing EEG and MRI findings can help make or confirm the diagnosis of CJD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1724-1728
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003


  • Cognitive disorder/dementia
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob
  • Electroencephalography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neuroimaging
  • Search headings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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