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      Radiological Imaging Features of Fasciola hepatica Infection – A Pictorial Review


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          Fascioliasis refers to a zoonosis caused by Fasciola hepatica, a trematode infecting herbivores, but also occurs in humans who ingest the metacercaria found in fresh water plants. Infection in humans is common in developing countries and is also not uncommon in Europe. Diagnosis of this infection is difficult, as the history and symptoms are nonspecific and stool analysis for eggs is negative until the disease is in an advanced state by when the parasite has reached the biliary system. The clinical course consists of two phases; first a hepatic parenchymal phase in which immature larvae invade the liver parenchyma, followed by a ductal phase characterized by the excretion of larvae into the bile ducts. Parenchymal Phase: Ultrasonography (US) findings are nonspecific in this early phase. Computerized tomography (CT) may demonstrate subcapsular low attenuation regions in the liver. Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI) can also be utilized to establish liver parenchymal involvement, and is better than CT in characterizing hemorrhagic lesions, as well as identifying more lesions relative to CT. Ductal Phase: US examination is most useful at this stage, with its ability to demonstrate the live movement of the worms within the dilated ducts. A CT demonstrates dilated central biliary ducts with periportal tracking, whereas, mild ductal dilatation is poorly appreciated under MRI. Therefore, familiarity with the multimodality imaging features of fascioliasis, in combination with an available confirmatory enzyme-linked immunoassay, would be most helpful for early diagnosis.

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          Fascioliasis and other plant-borne trematode zoonoses.

          Fascioliasis and other food-borne trematodiases are included in the list of important helminthiases with a great impact on human development. Six plant-borne trematode species have been found to affect humans: Fasciola hepatica, Fasciola gigantica and Fasciolopsis buski (Fasciolidae), Gastrodiscoides hominis (Gastrodiscidae), Watsonius watsoni and Fischoederius elongatus (Paramphistomidae). Whereas F. hepatica and F. gigantica are hepatic, the other four species are intestinal parasites. The fasciolids and the gastrodiscid cause important zoonoses distributed throughout many countries, while W. watsoni and F. elongatus have been only accidentally detected in humans. Present climate and global changes appear to increasingly affect snail-borne helminthiases, which are strongly dependent on environmental factors. Fascioliasis is a good example of an emerging/re-emerging parasitic disease in many countries as a consequence of many phenomena related to environmental changes as well as man-made modifications. The ability of F. hepatica to spread is related to its capacity to colonise and adapt to new hosts and environments, even at the extreme inhospitality of very high altitude. Moreover, the spread of F. hepatica from its original European range to other continents is related to the geographic expansion of its original European lymnaeid intermediate host species Galba truncatula, the American species Pseudosuccinea columella, and its adaptation to other lymnaeid species authochthonous in the newly colonised areas. Although fasciolopsiasis and gastrodiscoidiasis can be controlled along with other food-borne parasitoses, fasciolopsiasis still remains a public health problem in many endemic areas despite sustained WHO control programmes. Fasciolopsiasis has become a re-emerging infection in recent years and gastrodiscoidiasis, initially supposed to be restricted to Asian countries, is now being reported in African countries.
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            Update on hepatobiliary flukes: fascioliasis, opisthorchiasis and clonorchiasis.

            Hepatobiliary flukes--Fasciola, Opisthorchis, Clonorchis- are a major public health problem in east Asia, east Europe, Africa and Latin America. The present review focuses on current knowledge of clinical, diagnostic and treatment aspects caused by hepatobiliary flukes that can be applied to current protocols in endemic areas. Specific risk factors and geographic areas for these flukes have been heavily reported recently, with millions of people infected worldwide. Human cases in nonendemic areas, related to immigration and the international food trade (i.e. raw vegetables and fish), have also been reported. Diagnostic imaging changes include track-like lesions that are a characteristic feature of acute fascioliasis on computed tomography scanning of the liver. Newly available diagnostic serological tests may detect early infection and, therefore, help reduce severe clinical complications such as recurrent cholangitis, cholecystitis, hepatic tumours, cysts, calcification, cholelithiasis, pancreatitis, most importantly, cholangiocarcinoma related to Opisthorchis viverrini and possibly Clonorchis sinensis, and liver fibrosis associated with Fasciola hepatica infections. Highly effective antiparasitic treatment is available for all flukes. There is a better understanding of risk factors, clinical manifestations and complications, novel diagnosis tests and effective treatment, which together should help reduce the morbidity and mortality of these infections.
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              The infected liver: radiologic-pathologic correlation.

              Recent technologic advances have significantly enhanced the role of imaging in the detection, characterization, and management of infectious diseases involving the liver. In addition, imaging-guided percutaneous drainage has greatly improved the clinical treatment of patients with focal liver abscess. Infectious liver diseases can be accurately evaluated with ultrasonography (US), computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Characteristic changes in US echogenicity, CT attenuation, or MR imaging signal intensity and typical enhancement patterns can contribute to the diagnosis of specific infectious diseases, including abscesses, parasitic diseases, fungal diseases, granulomatous diseases, viral hepatitis, and other less common infections. CT is particularly helpful in revealing the presence of calcifications and gas and in detailing the enhancement pattern. The multiplanar capability of MR imaging and its sensitivity to small differences in tissue composition increase its specificity for certain hepatic infections, including hydatid cyst and candidiasis. Radiologic findings may be sufficient to obviate aspiration or histologic examination, although in most instances they are less specific. Nevertheless, imaging findings taken together with appropriate clinical information may provide the most likely diagnosis, even if biopsy is sometimes required for confirmation.

                Author and article information

                J Clin Imaging Sci
                Journal of Clinical Imaging Science
                Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd (India )
                27 January 2012
                : 2
                Department of Radiology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, US
                [1 ]Department of Microbiology, Dicle University Faculty of Medicine, Diyarbakir, Turkey
                [2 ]Department of Pathology, Dicle University Faculty of Medicine, Diyarbakir, Turkey
                Author notes
                Address for correspondence: Dr. Abdurrahim Dusak, 601 Elmwood Avenue, 14642, Rochester, NY, US. E-mail: adusak@ 123456yahoo.com
                Copyright: © 2012 Dusak A.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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