Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease: Considerations for Perioperative Care

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Volume 107, Issue 3 - March 2018
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Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease: Considerations for Perioperative Care


The unrecognized presence of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), which can remain dormant for decades, poses a serious health risk to both patients and perioperative clinicians. Without a current understanding of the relevance of the disease, symptoms can be misdiagnosed as other diseases and treated inappropriately. A brain biopsy is often considered an appropriate method for CJD testing pre-mortem, but this can give false results and would be best performed post mortem. Clinicians need to be knowledgeable about the potential presence of CJD and take appropriate action to prevent the spread of this disease. The purpose of this article is to increase perioperative nurses’ understanding of the signs, symptoms, and progression of CJD; identify potentially high-risk procedures in which high instrument infectivity is possible; and educate perioperative nurses about the diagnostic testing and resources available to them and their patients.

Key words: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, CJD, sterilization, prions, transmissible spongiform encephalopathy.