Doctors are bracing themselves for a series of lawsuits after it was established this week that surgery is an unsuspected cause of a range of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). The degenerative diseases can lie latent in the person years after surgery. CJD happens around 10 years after an operation on the retina when surgeons have re-used surgical instruments, researchers have discovered. Up to now, doctors had assumed that neuro-degenerative diseases such as CJD were hereditary, but the new discovery signifies "a shift in our understanding", say the researchers from the National Epidemiology Centre of the Carlos III Health Institute. Lead researcher Jesus de Pedro sounds a note of caution to families of post-operative CJD victims. Although they may be tempted to contact their lawyer, it would be "impossible to prove in individual cases", he says. (Source: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 2010; doi: 10.1136/jnnp.2009.188425).