27 January 2012
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.