Prion diseases are rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders that affect both humans and animals. They are distinguished by long incubation periods, characteristic spongiform (Swiss cheese) changes in brain and spinal cord tissues associated with neuronal loss, and a failure to induce inflammatory response.

These diseases are 100% fatal; they appear to arise spontaneously in humans (sporadic) or the causative factor is found in family genetics (inheritable). However, these diseases can also be transmitted to humans eating meat contaminated with BSE or human neuronal material harboring prions, or by contact with brain-derived therapeutic factors like human growth factor extracted for pituitary glands harvested from cadavers. 

Surgical instruments used in neurosurgery on...