November 1997

Brain Magnetic Resonance Diffusion Abnormalities in Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Neuroradiology Section (Drs Bahn and Kido) and the Division of Radiological Sciences of the Department of Radiology (Dr Lin), Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, and Department of Neurology (Dr Pearlman), Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Mo.

Arch Neurol. 1997;54(11):1411-1415. doi:10.1001/archneur.1997.00550230078021

Background:  Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain has been of limited usefulness in the diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Abnormalities on T2-weighted images have been described, but these are neither highly sensitive nor specific.

Objective:  To determine whether diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images might be useful in the evaluation of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Case Presentation:  A 61-year-old woman with rapidly progressive dementia was referred for cranial magnetic resonance imaging. Diffusion-weighted images were obtained as part of the examination. Brain biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease histologically.

Findings and Conclusions:  The diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance brain images demonstrated bilaterally symmetrical marked increase in signal intensity in the caudate nuclei, putamina, thalami, cingulate gyri, and right inferior frontal cortex. The apparent diffusion coefficient map showed abnormally low diffusion in these regions (as low as 40% of normal in the caudate head). This suggests that there is restricted diffusion in these regions. The T2-weighted images demonstrated slightly increased signal bilaterally in the caudate nuclei and putamina. These findings indicate that diffusion magnetic resonance imaging might be a sensitive means of imaging the abnormalities seen in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.