Edinburgh Research Explorer

Post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging in patients with suspected prion disease: Pathological confirmation, sensitivity, specificity and observer reliability. A national registry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Open Access permissions



  • Download as Adobe PDF

    Rights statement: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

    Final published version, 4 MB, PDF document

    Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY)

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0201434
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2018


The relationship between magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and clinical variables in patients suspected to have Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is uncertain. We aimed to determine which MRI features of CJD (positive or negative), previously described in vivo, accurately identify CJD, are most reliably detected, vary with disease duration, and whether combined clinical and imaging features increase diagnostic accuracy for CJD. Prospective patients suspected of having CJD were referred to the National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit between 1994-2004; post-mortem, brains were sent for MRI and histopathology. Two neuroradiologists independently assessed MRI for atrophy, white matter hyperintensities, and caudate, lentiform and pulvinar signals, blind to histopathological diagnosis and clinical details. We examined differences in variable frequencies using Fisher's exact tests, and associations between variables and CJD in logistic regression models. Amongst 200 cases, 118 (59%) with a histopathological diagnosis of CJD and 82 (41%) with histopathological diagnoses other than CJD, a logistic regression model including age, disease duration at death, atrophy, white matter hyperintensities, bright or possibly bright caudate, and present pulvinar sign correctly classified 81% of cases as CJD versus not CJD. Pulvinar sign alone was not independently associated with an increased likelihood of histopathologically-confirmed CJD (of any subtype) or sporadic CJD after adjustment for age at death, disease duration, atrophy, white matter hyperintensities or caudate signal; despite the large sample, data sparsity precluded investigation of the association of pulvinar sign with variant CJD. No imaging feature varied significantly with disease duration. Of the positive CJD signs, neuroradiologists most frequently agreed on the presence or absence of atrophy (agreements in 169/200 cases [84.5%]). Combining patient age, and disease duration, with absence of atrophy and white matter hyperintensities and presence of increased caudate signal and pulvinar sign predicts CJD with good accuracy. Autopsy remains essential.

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 70049237