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Creutzfeldt–Jacob disease mimics, or how to sort out the subacute encephalopathy patient
  1. Katherine Murray
  1. Correspondence to Dr K Murray, Specialist Registrar, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road South, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, UK; kmurray12{at}


Sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jacob disease (CJD) is a rare untreatable neurodegenerative disease which every neurologist will occasionally encounter during their career. However, it is likely to appear on their differential diagnosis list significantly more frequently. Numerous conditions can present with subacute encephalopathy which might be sporadic CJD and this article explores these diagnoses. It includes the commonest sporadic CJD mimics which are neurodegenerative, and highlights the relatively rare treatable mimics which must not be missed. It discusses relevant investigations, including serum antibodies, CSF, electroencephalography and MR brain imaging, and strategies when preliminary investigations fail to support sporadic CJD but no alternative diagnosis is readily apparent.

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  • This is a reprint of a paper that first appeared in Practical Neurolgy, January 2011, Volume 11, pages 19-28.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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