A simple pain sometimes hides an incredible diagnosis, and this story is further proof. In China, doctors have made a startling discovery about the spine of a woman suffering from back pain. The 46-year-old patient presented to the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing complaining of lower back pain. She said she started having pain three years ago, and the pain was now radiating to her hip and leg.
After a scan, the doctors noticed the presence of a cyst on the patient’s spine. And what they found inside sends shivers down the spine: a taenia solium, a flatworm-shaped parasite whose larvae infect the nervous system. Very rare, this infection is called neurocysticercosis. “Humans contract taeniasis by ingesting T. solium larvae present in infected and undercooked pork, says the World Health Organization (WHO). (…) It can also be contaminated with T. solium eggs due to poor hygiene (faecal-oral route) or by ingesting contaminated food or water.”
A parasite that causes headaches, convulsions, seizures and blindness
Headaches, convulsions, seizures and even blindness are among the main symptoms of neurocysticercosis. The disease can be treated, but the duration of treatment depends “on the size, location and stage of development of the cysts”, specifies the WHO. According to the Journal of Medical Case Reports, the Chinese patient had her cyst surgically removed and was treated with high doses of albendazole. She has no sequelae from this terrible misadventure and her most recent MRI shows no sign of relapse.
She complained of back pain. © Pexels