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Br J Radiol. 2011 Jun;84(1002):e126-9. doi: 10.1259/bjr/84379927.

Facial wrigglies: live extralymphatic filarial infestation in subcutaneous tissues of the head and neck.

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Department of Radiology and Imaging, Grant Medical Foundation, Maharashtra, India.


We report a rare case of a 32-year-old male with live extralymphatic filarial infestation presenting as a facial subcutaneous soft-tissue swelling. To the best of our knowledge these imaging findings have not been previously reported in the head and neck region in the existing English language literature. Real-time high-resolution ultrasonography revealed a solitary well-defined subcutaneous cystic lesion over the right zygomatic arch. It showed multiple linear, echogenic, undulating structures exhibiting a persistent twirling motion during the examination. This typical ultrasonographic appearance was consistent with the filarial dance sign (FDS) of live adult filarial worms. Subsequent MRI confirmed the cystic and solitary nature of the lesion. Complete excision of the cyst was performed, which revealed intracystic straw-coloured fluid and multiple white-coloured adult worms within the lesion. Histopathological examination confirmed multiple adult filarial worms with surrounding reactive inflammatory changes. In an endemic region, identification of the FDS in any normal anatomical structure or abnormal swelling, however remote or unusual the location within the body, should strongly suggest the diagnosis of live active filarial infestation. In view of the increasing migratory trends in the global population, it is imperative for radiologists in all countries to be aware of the typical imaging findings of this disease to arrive at the correct diagnosis.

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