Giant hydatid lung cysts in the Canadian northwest: Outcome of conservative treatment in three children
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Hydatid lung disease due to Echinococcus granulosus in the Canadian northwest and Alaska is often asymptomatic and usually benign. We reviewed the course and outcome of three children with giant hydatid lung cyst seen over a 2-year period. All were North American Indian children aged 9 to 12 years who presented with cough, fever, and chest pain. One had a rash. There was a history of exposure to domestic dogs who had been fed moose entrails in each case. Chest x-rays showed solitary lung cysts with air-fluid levels, from 6 cm to 12 cm in diameter. Aspiration of each cyst demonstrated Echinococcus hooklets and protoscolices. Serology was unhelpful, being negative in two cases. Transient pneumonitis and pneumothorax were seen as complications of needle aspiration. Two cysts gradually resolved over the following 6 months. One child returned after 9 months with a lung abscess due to superimposed infection of the cyst remnant with Haemophilus influenzae, and eventually required lobectomy. The existence of an endemic benign variant of E granulosus in Canada is not widely known, and it is important to distinguish it from the more aggressive pastoral form of the disease seen in immigrants from sheep-rearing countries. The native Canadian disease usually resolves spontaneously, does not cause anaphylaxis, and does not implant daughter cysts if spilled. Surgical treatment should be avoided except for complications such as secondary bacterial infection.
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