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Diagnostic imaging in the study of human hepatobiliary fascioliasis.

La Radiologia Medica 2010 Februrary
PURPOSE: Fascioliasis is a rare zoonotic disease caused by the trematode Fasciola hepatica. We present the typical patterns of hepatobiliary fascioliasis observed in ten patients studied with multimodality imaging.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Between 2002 and 2005, ten women with fascioliasis were admitted to the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School (BWH), with abdominal pain and mild fever. All imaging modalities, including ultrasound (US), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR) imaging (n = 2) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) (n = 1) were reviewed by two expert radiologists working in consensus.

RESULTS: In all patients (10/10, 100%), US showed parenchymal heterogeneity characterised by multiple subcapsular and peribiliary hypoechoic nodular lesions that were ill-defined and coalesced into tubular or tortuous structures. In six patients (6/10, 60%), the lesions appeared hypoechoic, whereas in four patients (4/10, 40%), there was an alternation of hyperechoic and hypoechoic nodules. On CT, all patients (10/10, 100%) showed hypodense patchy lesions in subcapsular, peribiliary or periportal locations, which coalesced to form tubular structures and were more evident during the portal phase. Lesion diameter ranged from 2 cm to 7 cm. Capsular enhancement was seen in four cases on CT (4/10, 40%) and in one also at MR imaging. MR imaging, performed in two patients, confirmed the presence of the lesions, which appeared hyperintense on T2-weighted images and were characterised by mild peripheral enhancement after gadolinium administration. Four patients had gallbladder wall thickening (4/10, 40%), with parasites in the gallbladder lumen.

CONCLUSIONS: Although rare, hepatobiliary fascioliasis should be considered in the differential diagnosis in the appropriate clinical scenario, especially in patients coming from endemic areas. The typical imaging pattern of fascioliasis is the presence of subcapsular, peribiliary or periportal nodules that are usually ill-defined and coalesce, giving rise to a tubular or tortuous appearance.

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