Neurocysticercosis Complicating Pregnancy

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OBJECTIVE: Infection with the pork tapeworm can result in neurocysticercosis caused by infestation of central nervous system tissues by the parasite cysts. Parenchymal brain infection can cause symptoms from mass effect that include headache, seizures, confusion, and even coma. Our objective was to describe the clinical course of neurocysticercosis infections in pregnant women. METHODS: This was a case series that described clinical findings and pregnancy outcomes of women diagnosed with neurocysticercosis from 1994 through 2016 at a single institution. Their medical records were reviewed, cranial computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans were assessed, and the infections were classified according to the criteria of the 2018 Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. RESULTS: Overall, 37 pregnant women with neurocysticercosis were identified. Of the 37 women, 32 were symptomatic, and 16 each had severe headaches or new-onset seizures or other neurologic sequelae. Some of these women had multiple symptoms. Others were diagnosed when neuroimaging was done for a history of neurocysticercosis or evaluation of a preexisting seizure disorder. The most common treatment was with anthelmintics-albendazole, praziquantel, or both-usually given with anticonvulsants and corticosteroids to decrease inflammation. There were eight women in whom invasive neurosurgical procedures were performed, usually for hydrocephaly. Overall, 32 healthy neonates were born at term, and there was one preterm delivery at 34 weeks of gestation. The four pregnancy losses included two molar pregnancies, one anembryonic miscarriage, and a 23-week stillbirth of a pregnancy complicated by preeclampsia with severe features. CONCLUSION: Neurocysticercosis in pregnant women may be asymptomatic or result in headaches, seizures, confusion, nausea and vomiting, altered mental status, or obtundation. Anthelmintic treatment is usually successful, but in some women neurosurgical procedures are necessary to relieve obstructive hydrocephaly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-225
Number of pages6
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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