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Hydatid cyst

Q:What Is a Hydatid cyst ?

Hydatid cyst is an infection caused by a parasite named Echinococcus. The infection commonly manifests as a cyst (fluid filled cavity) in the liver or elsewhere.

Q:What are some other names for hydatid cyst?

Echinococcal cyst, Hydatidosis; Hydatid disease, Hydatid cyst disease

Q:How common is the problem? Who is more likely to be affected?

It is a common infection in certain parts of the world, such as Africa, Central Asia, South America, The Mediterranean and The Middle East.

Q:Why does it happen? How does it progress?

The infection is carried transmitted by swallowing eggs of the parasite in contaminated food. Transmission is through livestock such as cattle, deer, dogs, wolves, coyotes, pigs or sheep. The infection is carried to the liver, where cysts form. Cysts can also form in the brain, bones, kidney, lungs, muscles or spleen. The cysts may break open (rupture) and cause severe illness.

The cysts could get complicated because of rupture into the abdomen, may open into the bile ducts or get infected. When in lungs, they can open into the respiratory passages.

Q:What are the signs and symptoms of hydatid cyst of liver?

A hydatid cyst may produce no symptoms for upto 10 - 20 years until it is large enough to be felt. Some common symptoms include pain in the upper right part of the abdomen, fever, persistent itching, chest pain or cough.

Complicated cysts may present with varied symptoms such as fever, jaundice or cough with blood in sputum.

Q:Which tests and examinations are required to diagnose / evaluate this disease?

Q:What is the best treatment for hydatid cyst?

Many patients can be treated with anti-parasitic medicines (albendazole or mebendazole) for upto 3 months. Another drug, praziquantel, may be helpful combined with albendazole or mebendazole. The cysts may have to be removed surgically when they do not respond to medical therapy or complications develop in the cysts. There are various types of surgical procedures described for treatment of hydatid cysts, the most complete removal is achieved by cysto-peri-cystectomy, which offers the best chance of cure from the infection, with least chances of recurrent infection.

Q:What are the precautions to be taken? Can it be prevented?

In areas where the disease is common, health education and routinely deworming dogs for tapeworms can help prevent spread of the disease.

Q:What is the expected prognosis (Outlook) after various treatments?

The outcome of hydatid cysts, treated with medication or surgery is good.