Neurocysticercosis: A Neurosurgical Perspective

Thomas G. Psarros, MD; Alexander Zouros, MD; Caetano Coimbra, MD


South Med J. 2003;96(10) 

In This Article


Neurocysticercosis (NCC) is the most common parasitic infection of the central nervous system (CNS) worldwide. An estimated 50 million people are infected and 50,000 people die annually as a result of this disease.[1] It accounts for 11% of hospital admissions and 35 to 45% of all neurosurgical procedures in certain endemic areas.[2] The incidence in the United States is increasing and involvement by neurosurgical services is increasing.

Humans are the definitive host for the adult tapeworm Taenia solium, which harbors in the small intestine without consequence.[3] Fecal shedding of eggs usually leads to ingestion of eggs in contaminated water or food by an intermediate host, typically human or pig. Once inside the intestine, the eggs are released and produce primary larvae that enter the circulatory system. Hematogenous spread to muscular, ocular, and neural tissue then occurs. Once inside the brain, the primary larvae develop into secondary larvae, the cysticerci.