Neurocysticercosis in a European Traveler Returning From India, Primarily Suspected as Neoplasia


To the Editor-in-Chief

The case reported by Salzer and colleagues[1] shows a typical problem that is observed during the evaluation and management of patients with suspected neurocysticercosis in nonendemic areas. According to their description, a woman—with history of frequent travel to India—was evaluated because of a subcutaneous nodule that was confirmed to be a Taenia solium cysticercus after biopsy and histopathological examination. Then, this neurological asymptomatic patient underwent computed tomography (CT) scan of the head, and the authors found multiple parenchymal brain calcifications but no viable cysts (CT not shown). On this basis, they decided to start sequential therapy with two cysticidal drugs (praziquantel and albendazole), and as a result of this, the patient experienced two generalized seizures soon after those trials had been completed. Repeated CT revealed multiple cysticerci in the colloidal or granular stages surrounded by edema (CT not shown).

Some logical questions arise. Why did the authors use cysticidal drugs if CT only showed parenchymal brain calcifications? Why did they not request for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) before therapy if they suspected that some viable cysts may be hiding because of poor resolution of CT? And, in the event that MRI was unavailable or contraindicated and the authors still had the suspicion that viable cysts could be in the brain, why did they not use antiepileptic drugs?

Misinterpretation of the different patterns of disease expression of neurocysticercosis in terms of parasite location, viability of lesions, and severity of the infection may be responsible for a number of “adverse reactions” related to the use of cysticidal drugs or even to the practice of unnecessary surgical procedures.[2] These complications are completely avoidable provided current guidelines for therapy are followed.[3] Reports such as this may create confusion on the actual value and safety of cysticidal drugs among readers who are not familiar with the disease.

  • Oscar H. Del Brutto

  • School of Medicine, Universidad Espíritu

  • Santo—Ecuador, Guayaquil, Ecuador