Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center officials said instruments used in a surgery didn't get the approved sterilization, leading to a possible exposure to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a serious and incurable neurological disorder, CNN reported Monday.
"Today we are reaching out to 18 neurosurgery patients who were exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease over the last three weeks at Forsyth Medical Center," medical center President Jeff Lindsay said.
The hospital confirmed that a Jan. 18 operation was performed on a patient with Creutzfeldt-Jakob symptoms. The patient later tested positive for the illness.
The surgical instruments were sterilized in accordance with standard hospital procedure, but they should have undergone enhanced sterilization procedures for suspected CJD exposure, CNN reported. While CJD can be transferred through surgical equipment, hospital officials said the likelihood of patients contracting the disease was very low.
"On behalf of the entire team at Novant Health, I apologize to the patients and their families, for having caused this anxiety," Lindsay said.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke said Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare, degenerative and fatal brain disorder affecting one person in every 1 million people annually worldwide.