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Journal Article

Management of Neurosurgical Instruments and Patients Exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Ermias D. Belay MD, Jennifer Blase MPH, Lynne M. Sehulster PhD, Ryan A. Maddox PhD and Lawrence B. Schonberger MD
Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
Vol. 34, No. 12 (December 2013), pp. 1272-1280
DOI: 10.1086/673986
Stable URL:
Page Count: 9
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Management of Neurosurgical Instruments and Patients Exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
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Objective. To summarize the approaches used to manage exposure of patients to inadequately sterilized neurosurgical instruments contaminated as a result of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).Methods. Information on past CJD exposure incidents reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was aggregated and summarized. In addition, inactivation studies were reviewed, and data from selected publications were provided for reference.Results. Nineteen incidents of patient exposure to potentially CJD-contaminated instruments were reported to the CDC, including 17 that involved intracranial procedures and 2 that involved ophthalmologic procedures. In more than 50% of incidents, the neurosurgical procedures were performed for diagnostic work up of the index patients. At least 12 of the hospitals had multiple neurosurgical sets, and the CJD-contaminated instruments could not be identified in 11 of 19 hospitals. In 12 of 15 hospitals with neurosurgical incidents, a decision was made to notify patients of their potential exposure.Conclusions. Neurosurgical instruments used for treatment of patients with suspected or diagnosed CJD or patients whose diagnosis is unclear should be promptly identified and sterilized using recommended CJD decontamination protocols. Inability to trace instruments complicates appropriate management of exposure incidents. The feasibility of instituting instrument tracking procedures should be considered.

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