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RCS and SBNS response to study on amyloid protein transmission through neurosurgery

16 Feb 2018

A new UCL-led study  published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica suggests amyloid beta pathology – protein deposits in the brain – might have been transmitted by contaminated neurosurgical instruments.  Amyloid beta is best known for being one of the hallmark proteins of Alzheimer’s disease, but the researchers did not find evidence of Alzheimer’s in this study.

Responding to questions over whether Alzheimer's disease could be spread by contaminated surgical instruments, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Society of British Neurological Surgeons said:

“Any study that investigates potential links between contaminated neurosurgical instruments and the transmission of disease is to be welcomed, as the more we understand about eliminating risk, the greater the benefit for patients.

“It would perhaps be premature to draw too many conclusions from such a small sample however, if further evidence does conclusively show amyloid beta deposition, which has been linked to Alzheimer's, may be transmissible through neurosurgical instruments, similar guidance to that aimed at preventing the transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD/ vCJD) could be recommended.

“Following the introduction of that guidance, the previously predicted spread of CJD/vCJD through neurosurgical procedures has not occurred.

“Guidance on patient safety and reduction of risk of transmission of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) via interventional procedures was published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2006. It advised on how best to reduce the risk of transmission of the prions, which cause CJD and vCJD via neurosurgical interventional procedures. It is currently being updated by NICE.”

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

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