CJD Alliance
Over the last few years, a number of techniques have been deployed in order to diagnose suspected cases of CJD. There is currently no single diagnostic test for CJD. When a doctor suspects CJD, the first concern is to rule out treatable forms of dementia such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or chronic meningitis. A neurological examination will be performed and the doctor may seek consultation with other physicians. Standard diagnostic tests will include

· Tonsil Biopsy.
· a spinal tap (CSF analysis of 14-3-3 protein) to rule out more common causes of dementia and
· an electroencephalogram (EEG) to record the brain’s electrical pattern, which can be particularly valuable because it shows a specific type of abnormality in CJD.
· Computerized tomography (CAT) of the brain can help rule out the possibility that the symptoms result from other problems such as stroke or a brain tumour.
· Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans also can reveal characteristic patterns of brain degeneration that can help diagnose CJD. Most recently “Flair” MRI is being used as a diagnostic test
- Brain stem function is often measured by monitoring obvious changes in heart rate variability (HRV). Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is now a well established medical area. A two year DoH funded study took place in the UK between 2002 and 2004 by a team from the University of Manchester.

The researchers involved firmly believe that HRV may form the basis for a non-invasive live test for brainstem dysfunction in the field of TSE’s, in light of the work that was carried out in this pilot study.

Finding a simple non-invasive technique for accurately confirming diagnosis of CJD

(and indeed BSE/CWD) is an ultimate goal.

In conjunction with DWI, EEG, 14-3-3, PET scans and MRI, these diagnostic methodologies continue to provide clearer indications of the onset and development/progression of TSE’s.