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From: TSS (
Subject: Surgeons to get CJD-risk advice (UK)
Date: October 1, 2004 at 2:15 pm PST

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Surgeons to get CJD-risk advice (UK)
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2004 15:24:51 -0500
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Surgeons to get CJD-risk advice

Image of surgical equipment
Surgeons will get equipment advice

An NHS watchdog is to develop guidelines for surgeons to help minimise
the risk of contracting CJD infections through operations.

It will advise on surgical procedures and instruments used in operations
involving tissues carrying a high or medium risk CJD or Variant CJD.

The finished document is not expected until May 2006.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence will not examine the
risks posed by blood transfusions, however.

Last month, 4,000 patients in the UK were sent letters warning them they
may have been exposed to vCJD through contaminated blood products.

Stopping transmission

But the NICE guidance will only look at the risk of transmission from
tissues that potentially carry CJD and the tools used to operate on
these tissues.

CJD is a progressive, fatal neurological disease.

The most high-profile form of the disease, vCJD, is a human form of
bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as 'mad-cow disease'.

Tissues that are classed as having a high or medium risk for CJD and
vCJD include brain and spinal cord, the front and back of the eye and
the inside of the nose.

Patients should be reassured that the risk of developing CJD as a result
of any operation is small.
Professor Bruce Campbell, a surgeon and chairman of NICE's sub-committee

Surgery on lymph glands, such as tonsils, also carries the risk of vCJD.

NICE will advise surgeons on whether reusable instruments or disposable
instruments should be used in different procedures.

The only way that surgery can be made completely safe is to use
disposable instruments for all operations.

However, disposable versions of surgical instruments do not exist for
all procedures.

Experts will have to balance the potential risks of transmitting CJD and
vCJD via reusable instruments against the risks to patients of using
"potentially technically substandard or unreliable disposable
instruments", said NICE.

It will also look at the way surgical instruments are sterilised and

Professor Bruce Campbell, a surgeon and chairman of the sub-committee
said: "Patients should be reassured that the risk of developing CJD as a
result of any operation is small.

"Our aim will be to make recommendations on clinical practice which will
keep the risk as close to zero as possible."

At present, it is not possible to know what the risk of transmission is.

About one in a million people have CJD and 142 people are known to have
died of vCJD since 1996.


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