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IDSA 2017 Clinical Practice Guidelines for Diagnosis and treatment of Neurocysticercosis

IDSA 2017 Clinical Practice Guidelines for Diagnosis and treatment of Neurocysticercosis

Clinical Practice Guidelines,2017 by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) for  Diagnosis and Treatment of Neurocysticercosis have been released.The guidelines are intended for infectious disease specialists, neurologists, neurological surgeons, internists, pediatricians, and family practitioners.They have been published in Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases.


  1. While there is a wide range of clinical manifestations of neurocysticercosis, the 2 most common clinical presentations are with seizures and increased intracranial pressure (not graded).
  2. Initial evaluation should include careful history and physical examination, and neuroimaging studies (not graded).
  3. We recommend serologic testing with enzyme-linked immunotransfer blot as a confirmatory test in patients with suspected neurocysticercosis (strong, moderate). Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays using crude antigen should be avoided due to poor sensitivity and specificity (strong, moderate).
  4. We recommend both brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a noncontrast computed tomography (CT) scan for classifying patients with newly diagnosed neurocysticercosis (strong, moderate). 
  5. 5. We suggest screening for latent tuberculosis infection in patients likely to require prolonged corticosteroids (weak, low).
  • 6. We suggest screening or empiric therapy for Strongyloides stercoralis in patients likely to require prolonged corticosteroids (weak, low).
  • 7. We recommend that all patients with NCC undergo a funduscopic examination prior to initiation of anthelminthic therapy (strong, moderate).
  • 8. We suggest that patients with NCC who probably acquired NCC in a nonendemic area have their household members screened for tapeworm carriage (weak, low).
  • 9. We recommend that patients treated with albendazole for >14 days be monitored for hepatotoxicity and leukopenia (strong, moderate).
  • 10. No additional monitoring is needed for patients receiving combination therapy with albendazole and praziquantel beyond that recommended for albendazole monotherapy (strong, moderate).
  • 11. In patients with untreated hydrocephalus or diffuse cerebral edema, we recommend management of elevated intracranial pressure alone and not antiparasitic treatment (strong, moderate). The management of patients with diffuse cerebral edema should be anti-inflammatory therapy such as corticosteroids, whereas hydrocephalus usually requires a surgical approach.
  • 12. In the absence of elevated intracranial pressure, we recommend use of antiparasitic drugs in all patients with VPN (strong, moderate).
  • 13. For patients with 1–2 viable parenchymal cysticerci, we recommend albendazole monotherapy for 10–14 days compared to either no antiparasitic therapy (strong, high) or combination antiparasitic therapy (weak, moderate). Remarks: The usual dose of albendazole is 15 mg/kg/day divided into 2 daily doses for 10–14 days with food. We recommend a maximum dose of 1200 mg/day.
  • 14. We recommend albendazole (15 mg/kg/day) combined with praziquantel (50 mg/kg/day) for 10–14 days rather than albendazole monotherapy for patients with >2 viable parenchymal cysticerci (strong, moderate).
  • 15. We suggest retreatment with antiparasitic therapy for parenchymal cystic lesions persisting for 6 months after the end of the initial course of therapy (weak, low).
  • 16. We recommend adjunctive corticosteroid therapy begun prior to antiparasitic drugs rather than no adjunctive therapy in all patients treated with antiparasitic therapy (strong, moderate).
  • 17. We recommend antiepileptic drugs in all NCC patients with seizures (strong, low).
  • 18. In patients with few seizures prior to antiparasitic therapy, resolution of the cystic lesion on imaging studies, and no seizures for 24 consecutive months, we suggest that tapering off and stopping antiepileptic drugs be considered (weak, moderate).
  • 19. In the absence of controlled data, the choice of antiepileptic drugs should be guided by local availability, cost, drug interactions, and potential side effects (not graded)
  • 20. We suggest that MRI be repeated at least every 6 months until resolution of the cystic component (strong, low).
  • 21. We recommend that patients with multiple enhancing lesions and seizures be initially treated with antiepileptic drugs, antiparasitic therapy, and corticosteroids as outlined in the section on viable parenchymal cysticerci (weak, moderate).
  • 22. We recommend antiepileptic drugs for all patients with SELs and seizures (strong, moderate).
  • 23. In the absence of controlled data, the choice of antiepileptic drugs can be guided by local availability, cost, drug interactions, and potential side effects (not graded).
  • 24. In patients who have been seizure free for 6 months, we suggest tapering off and stopping antiepileptic drugs after resolution of the lesion in patients with SELs without risk factors for recurrent seizures (weak, moderate). Remark: Risk factors for recurrent seizures include residual cystic lesions or calcifications on neuroimaging studies, breakthrough seizures, or >2 seizures.
  • 25. We suggest albendazole therapy rather than no antiparasitic therapy for all patients with SELs (weak, moderate). Remarks: Albendazole (15 mg/kg/day in twice-daily doses up for 1–2 weeks) should be given with meals.
  • 26. We recommend that patients with SELs treated with antiparasitic drugs also be treated with corticosteroids initiated prior to antiparasitic therapy (strong, moderate).
  • 27 We suggest that MRI be repeated at least every 6 months until resolution of cystic lesions for patients with SELs (weak, low).
  • 28 We suggest brain MRI in patients with seizures or hydrocephalus and only calcified parenchymal NCC on CT (weak, low).
  • 29. We recommend symptomatic therapy alone instead of antiparasitic drugs in patients with calcified parenchymal lesions (strong, moderate), (Table 2).
  • 30. We suggest that corticosteroids not be routinely used in patients with isolated CPN and perilesional edema (weak, low).
  • 31. In patients with refractory epilepsy and CPN, we suggest evaluation for surgical removal of seizure foci (weak, low).
  • 32 We recommend MRI with 3D volumetric sequencing to identify intraventricular and subarachnoid cysticerci in patients with hydrocephalus and suspected NCC (strong, moderate).
  • 33. When possible, we recommend removal of the cysticerci by minimally invasive neuroendoscopy over other surgical or medical approaches for cysticerci of the lateral and third ventricles (strong, moderate), (Table 3). Remark: Most experts recommend that antiparasitic drugs not be used preoperatively, as such treatment could result in disruption of parasite integrity and an inflammatory response that could prevent successful cyst removal.
  • 34. In cases in which surgical removal of fourth ventricular cysticerci is possible, we recommend surgical removal rather than medical therapy and/or shunt surgery (strong, moderate).
  • 35. We suggest shunt surgery for hydrocephalus rather than cyst removal when surgical removal is technically difficult (weak, low). Remark: Attempted removal of inflamed or adherent ventricular cysticerci is associated with increased risk of complications.
  • 36. We recommend corticosteroids to decrease brain edema in the perioperative period (not graded).
  • 37. We suggest antiparasitic drugs with corticosteroid therapy following shunt insertion to decrease subsequent shunt failure in patients in whom surgical removal of isolated intraventricular cysts is not possible (weak, low), but neither after successful removal of intraventricular cysts (weak, low). Remark: Note that intraventricular cysts may be accompanied by other lesions with indications for antiparasitic therapy.
  • 38. We recommend that patients with subarachnoid cysts be treated with antiparasitic drugs (strong, low), .
  • 39. We suggest that antiparasitic therapy be continued until there is radiologic resolution of viable cysticerci on MRI and resolution of other evidence of cysticerci (weak, low). Responses often require prolonged therapy, which can last for more than a year.
  • 40. We recommend anti-inflammatory therapy (such as high-dose corticosteroids) for subarachnoid NCC initiated prior to antiparasitic drugs (strong, moderate).
  • 41. We suggest that methotrexate be considered as a steroid-sparing agent in patients requiring prolonged courses of anti-inflammatory therapy (weak, low).
  • 42. We recommend that patients with hydrocephalus from subarachnoid NCC be treated with shunt surgery in addition to medical therapy (strong, low).
  • 43. We suggest that some patients may benefit from surgical debulking over shunt surgery alone (weak, low).
  • 44. We recommend corticosteroid treatment for patients with SN with evidence of spinal cord dysfunction (eg, paraparesis or incontinence) or as adjunctive therapy along with antiparasitic therapy (strong, moderate).
  • 45. We suggest that both medical (antiparasitic drugs plus anti-inflammatory drugs) and surgical approaches be considered for SN (weak, low). Practice statement: There are anecdotes of good responses of spinal neurocysticercosis to medical and/or surgical therapy. However, there are no good data supporting one approach over the other. We suggest that management of spinal NCC should be individualized based on symptoms, location of the cysticerci, degree of arachnoiditis, and surgical experience. Recommendations for antiparasitic drugs, reimaging, and follow-up of SAN should also be considered for subarachnoid SN.
  • 46. We suggest that intraocular cysticerci be treated with surgical removal rather than with antiparasitic drugs (weak, low).
  • 47. There is no evidence that management of NCC in children should be different than in adults with the same form of disease (strong, moderate). Dosing should be weight based.
  • 48. We suggest that antihelminthic therapy be deferred until after pregnancy (weak, low).

 Pregnant patients with elevated intracranial pressure need to be aggressively managed as they would be if not pregnant. Corticosteroids can be used in pregnancy when necessary. The use of antiepileptic drugs should take into account altered pharmacokinetics and potential teratogenicity. Phenobarbital and valproic acid are known to have high rates of teratogenicity. Antihelminthic drugs are rarely required emergently and their use can usually be deferred until after delivery. Methotrexate is teratogenic and should be avoided.

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