Her legs were tingling. Then, doctors pulled a tapeworm out of her spine

Her legs were tingling. Then, doctors pulled a tapeworm out of her spine

X-ray showing tapeworm in woman's spine.X-ray showing tapeworm in woman’s spine.
Vertebral HydatidosisVertebral Hydatidosis

By Lilly Price, USA TODAY

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A 35-year-old French woman went to the emergency room to report a tingling electric sensation in her legs and trouble walking. The cause: A tapeworm lodged in her spine – swelling so much it hindered her ability to walk.

In a New England Journal of Medicine essay, doctors Marine Jacquier and Lionel Piroth of Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Dijon in Dijon, France, explained how the woman had fallen several times and the tingling feeling in her legs “had been progressing, and she noted that she had had difficulty riding her horse for the preceding 3 months.”

Doctors decided to take an x-ray of her spine which revealed a large round object nestled in her spine blocking her central nervous system. After performing surgery to remove the object, the doctors discovered it was a parasite in its larval stage.

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The parasite was Echinococcus granulosus, also known as a dog tapeworm, not often found in humans. Once the tapeworm was in her body, it formed the cyst lodged in her spine.

The woman owned a cat, had contact with cattle and rode horses, but it is unknown how exactly she came in contact with the tapeworm. After removing the tapeworm, she was put on antiparasitic medication and fully recovered, according to Jacquier and Piroth.

Follow Lilly Price on Twitter: @lillianmprice

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