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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


LARRIEU, Edmundo et al. Asymptomatic carriers of hydatidosis: epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2000, vol.8, n.4, pp.250-256. ISSN 1680-5348.

Until a short time ago, hydatidosis was considered a pathology that could only be resolved surgically. However, in recent years progress has been made with the epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease, and new information on the natural history of hydatidosis has helped define new criteria for its treatment. It is now known that as many as 67% of the carriers of liver cysts who are asymptomatic remain so throughout their lives. This situation produces special results in immunologic testing. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) has a sensitivity of 63% and a specificity of 97% with asymptomatic carriers, while the double diffusion arc 5 test (DD5) achieves a sensitivity of only 31% with the same population. On the other hand, imaging studies based on ultrasonography have become the method of choice to detect asymptomatic carriers. Ultrasonography studies are 49% to 73% more sensitive than serological tests, and they can even be used as a part of epidemiological surveillance systems and to monitor control programs. Treatment schemes have also been modernized. Treating asymptomatic carriers chemotherapeutically with albendazole produces favorable results in as many as 69% of cases, while such minimally invasive surgical treatments as puncture-aspiration-injection-reaspiration (PAIR) reduce average cyst volume by as much as 66%. These factors have made it possible for hospital services in the province of Río Negro, Argentina, to establish a treatment scheme for asymptomatic carriers. It is based on the monitoring of small cysts (type Ia on the modified Gharbi scale); initial treatment with albendazole, followed by PAIR if there is no response, in larger or more complex cysts (types Ib, II, and III); and follow-up of inviable or dead cysts (types IV and V).

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