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Am Heart J. 1999 Jun;137(6):1173-8.

Reuse of angioplasty catheters and risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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  • 1Divisions of Cardiology and Clinical Epidemiology, Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.



In 1996, the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, concerned that reuse of devices contaminated with blood or blood products could cause the transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), discontinued its practice of reusing angioplasty catheters despite the significant cost savings reuse had afforded the health care system for several years. The objective of this study was to establish whether the medical literature provides documentation of any cases in which CJD was transmitted by reused percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) equipment.


A Medline search was performed to identify previous studies that examined this issue. Key words for the search included PTCA, CJD, and material and equipment reuse. A substantial amount of effort has been spent on the study of PTCA catheter reuse in relation to the risk of infection, toxicity, and catheter breakage as well as cost. In Québec, studies by the Conseil d'Evaluation des Technologies de la Santé investigated the effectiveness of cleaning and sterilizing PTCA equipment and considered the possibility that reuse of single-use catheters, hemodialyzers, and cardiac pacemakers could spread CJD. A number of other studies found evidence that iatrogenic transmission was responsible for several cases of CJD by direct implantation in or adjacent to the central nervous system during neurosurgery. CJD was also transmitted to human beings by injection of pituitary growth hormone and to mice through cerebral inoculation of contaminated blood and urine. However, there were no documented cases of CJD occurring as a complication of PTCA equipment reuse.


The current literature indicates that there are no known cases of CJD attributable to the reuse of PTCA devices contaminated by blood or to the transfusion of blood or blood products. This practice is associated with a very low risk of CJD transmission. With the considerable cost savings made possible by reuse of PTCA equipment, reimplementation of this practice should be considered by health delivery systems, provided that stringent methods of cleaning and sterilization are observed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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