Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor
To the Editor: At the time of my mother's death, various diagnoses were advanced such as "rapid progressive Alzheimer disease," psychosis, and dementia. Had I not persisted and personally sought and arranged a brain autopsy, her death certificate would have read cardiac failure and not CJD.
Through CJD Voice1 I have corresponded with hundreds of grief-stricken families who are so devastated by this horrific disease that brain autopsy is the furthest thing from their minds. In my experience, very few physicians suggest it to the family. After the death and when families reflect that they never were sure what killed their loved one it is too late to find the true cause of death. In the years since my mother died I think that the increasing awareness of the nature of CJD has only resulted in fewer pathologists being willing to perform an autopsy in a suspected case of CJD.
Kraemer DE. Diagnosis and Reporting of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. JAMA. 2001;285(6):733-734. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-285-6-jlt0214