Skin inflammatory (nontumor)
Infectious disorders

Topic Completed: 1 January 2016

Minor changes: 13 December 2019

Copyright: 2003-2019,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Cysticercosis [title] skin

Abha Soni, D.O., M.P.H.
Page views in 2019: 7,834
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Cite this page: Soni A Cysticercosis. website. Accessed May 31st, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Tissue infection caused by ingestion of larval cysts of the cestode Taenia solium (cysticercus cellulose) (CDC: Cysticercosis [Accessed 27 August 2018])
  • Acquired by swallowing food, water or feces contaminated by T. solium eggs
  • In cystecicercosis, the human represents an intermediate host, and the parasite develops cysticerci in various organs

  • Taeniasis: infection caused by the adult tapeworm in the human intestine, which occurs from ingestion of larvae in undercooked pork
  • Cysticerci: larval forms of tapeworms found within a fluid filled cyst
  • 50 - 100 million people infected worldwide (eMedicine: Cysticercosis [Accessed 27 August 2018])

  • Endemic areas include: Central and South America, India, China Southeast Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe

  • In the United States, infection is most common in rural areas and among Latin American immigrants
  • Cysticerci develop in the nervous system, heart, skeletal muscle, eyes and subcutaneous tissue
Diagrams / tables

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Life cycle

  • Accidental ingestion of eggs or gravid proglottids of Taenia solium by human host via infected food, water or feces
Clinical features
  • Cysticercosis of the skin is rare
  • It presents as a palpable, subcutaneous nodule
  • Thorough history, skin biopsy, serology (serum or CSF) and imaging can aid in the proper diagnosis
Radiology description
  • CT scan can reveal hyperdense lesions in subcutaneous tissue with or without calcification
  • Ultrasound can reveal cystic lesions
Radiology images

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Computed tomography

Case reports
  • Praziquantel and albendazole are effective
  • Surgery is appropriate for large, solitary lesions which would otherwise require prolonged antiparasitic therapy
Clinical images

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Gigantic cysticercosis pseudo tumour

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Swelling over neck

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Swellings over back

Gross description
  • Circumscribed, white to tan, cystic nodules containing a clear fluid
  • Cyst sizes vary, but commonly 1mm - 2cm
  • Larval forms identified within the cyst cavity
Gross images

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Cysticercosis pseudotumor

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Well circumscribed nodule

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Specimen from trunk

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • The cystic cavity contains the the larval form: scolex with hooklets and two pairs of suckers
  • The larval form, composed of duct-like invaginations, is lined by a double layered, eosinophilic membrane
  • Its body wall exhibits a myxoid matrix and calcareous bodies (calcified concretions)
  • Birefringent hooklets may be identified
  • Variable granulomatous reaction, inflammatory infiltrate with lymphocytes and eosinophils, fibrosis and calcification
Microscopic (histologic) images
Contributed by Dr. Faheema Hasan, Moti Lal Nehru Medical College (India) for Case of the Week #458:

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Fibrosis and inflammation

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Hooklet of cysticercus

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Parasitic granuloma

Contributed by Dr. Thiriveni Balajji and Dr. M. Kavitha, Coimbatore Medical College (India):
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Various images

Cytology description
  • Fibrillary stroma with interspersed nuclei and a honeycomb pattern
  • Mixed inflammatory infiltrate
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