Creutzfeldt-Jakob (Prion) disease
A diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is usually based on medical history, symptoms and a series of tests.
A neurologist (a doctor who specialises in conditions of the nervous system) will carry out the tests to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as Alzheimer's disease , Parkinson's disease or a brain tumour .
The only way to confirm a diagnosis of CJD is to examine the brain tissue by carrying out a brain biopsy , or more commonly (after death) by post-mortem examination of the brain.
Specialist services to advise local teams in diagnosis are available at the National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh and the National Prion Clinic in London.
A clinical neurologist will rule out other conditions with similar symptoms and check for some common signs of CJD by carrying out the tests below:
During a brain biopsy , a surgeon drills a tiny hole into the skull and removes a small piece of brain tissue using a very thin needle. It's carried out under general anaesthetic , which means the person will be unconscious during the procedure.
As a brain biopsy carries the risk of causing brain damage or seizures (fits), it's only performed in a few cases where there's a concern that someone doesn't have CJD but some other treatable condition.
Find out about the different types of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), and what causes the condition and how it's treated.
Read about the symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) which vary depending on the type. In sporadic CJD they are neurological and in variant CJD they are psychological.
Find out what causes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). The main cause of all types of CJD is a build-up of an abnormal infectious protein in the brain called a prion.
Read about the tests used to investigate Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) including MRI, EEG and lumbar puncture. A brain biopsy is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of CJD.
Find out what can be done for a person with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) to reduce their symptoms.
Read about the strict controls that are in place to prevent variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) spreading through the food supply and blood transfusions.