Doc Plucks 12-Inch Tapeworm From Mans Brain

Story ByJohn FengSub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyAsia Wire Report

This image shows a 12-inch tapeworm removed alive from the brain of a patient who contracted the parasite by eating snake bile in the belief that it would help flush out toxins.

Doctors examining the 29-year-old man from Shantou in China’s southern Guangdong Province had been searching for the cause of the illness since 3rd March when he collapsed in a sudden seizure.

The patient named only as ‘Xiao Wei’ lost consciousness and was taken to hospital by his colleagues after the scare, with his doctors discovering a space-occupying lesion in his temporal lobe.

Picture Credit: AsiaWire

They suspected a parasitic infection but decided on a more ‘conservative’ course of treatment instead of opting immediately for brain surgery.

However, when his condition did not improve, he was referred to the larger Guangdong 999 Brain Hospital.

Neurosurgeon Ren Luming order further scans which showed the lesion having increased in size and shifted to his frontal lobe.

These were the characteristics of a parasitic infection, and tests done on Xiao Wei’s blood and cerebrospinal fluid confirmed his taeniasis diagnosis, Doctor Ren said.

Taeniasis is an infection of the tapeworm genus Taenia, which affects livestock such as pigs and cows, as well as humans.

Xiao Wei had revealed to Doctor Ren that he purchased snake bile from practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine and ate it believing that the substance would help remove toxins from his body.

Despite there being no scientific evidence to support the belief, many ingest snake bile in wine or with rice as a supplement, the medic noted.

Doctor Ren said tapeworm larvae was likely present in the snake bile when Xiao Wei ate it.

During a craniotomy, Doctor Ren and his team removed a large granuloma by his left temporal lobe.

The mass of tissue – produced in response to an infection or the presence of foreign substance – had been concealing a wriggling 30-centimetre (12-inch) tapeworm which was promptly removed.

Xiao Wei would continued to be monitored by the hospital for any long-term effects of the infection, reports said.

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