THURSDAY, April 20, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Between 1970 and 2003, transplanted human tissue was responsible for a total of seven cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) -- the human form of mad cow disease -- in the U.K., a new study finds.
Researchers at the National CJD Surveillance Unit at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh said the seven cases were caused by transplanted human dura mater -- the outermost, toughest and most fibrous of the three membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
Dura mater is used in cranial and spinal surgical repair and a number of other procedures, including the reinforcement of ligaments and tendons.
In these seven patients, CJD struck between four and 15 years after they received infected dura mater. In six of the seven cases, the dura mater was traced to one supplier, the study said.
The findings appear in the current issue of Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
Worldwide, there have been 164 cases of CJD caused by transplanted human dura mater. Most of those people were treated with the product identified as the primary source of infection in the U.K. cases.
The study authors said that the risk to U.K. patients is unknown but could be as high as 1 in 500 for patients treated between 1973 and 2003, according to Australian researchers.
Since 1987, more stringent selection criteria and better disinfection techniques have been in place, and this may help reduce the numbers of future CJD cases caused by surgical transplants, the authors said.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about CJD.