Published this past week in the “Images in Clinical Medicine” section of the New England Journal of Medicine is an interesting case from the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in New Delhi, India where they extracted a more than 6-foot adult Taenia solium, aka pork tapeworm through a patient’s mouth (click link above to see photos).
An except from the brief article states:
A 48-year-old man presented with a 2-month history of abdominal discomfort and lethargy…Colonoscopy revealed a proglottid from a tapeworm in the rectosigmoid colon…. A gastroscope and forceps were used to identify the tip of the tapeworm, and the 188 cm tapeworm was extracted through the patient’s mouth.
Taenia solium is a tapeworm that people get from eating raw or undercooked “measly pork”. The pork meat has cysticerci (the larval stage) which in the human intestine mature to an adult tapeworm. Here the tapeworm attaches to the intestine and produces thousands of eggs.
Most people are asymptomatic and only become aware of the tapeworm by noticing segments of the worm in their feces. Symptoms of infection, if any, are general: nausea, intestinal upset, vague abdominal symptoms such as hunger pains, diarrhea and/or constipation, or chronic indigestion.
However, the taeniasis can lead to the more severe cysticercosis. Human cysticercosis occurs either by the direct transfer of Taenia solium eggs from the feces of people harboring an adult worm to their own mouth (autoinfection) or to the mouth of another individual, or indirectly by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the eggs. When the person ingests the eggs, the embryo escape from the shell and penetrates the intestinal wall, gets into the blood vessels, where they spread to muscle, or more seriously, the eyes, heart or brain.
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