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Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 1996 Sep;25(3):599-625.

Schistosomiasis. Pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment.

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Division of Gastroenterology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, USA.


Globally, schistosomes infect 1 in 30 people. Tourists travel to endemic areas, whereas students, workers, and expatriates travel to nonendemic areas. Physicians around the world need to remain aware of this common parasitic infection. Pathology results from parasite eggs that lodge in the intestines and liver. Intestinal schistosomiasis is most often asymptomatic and presents with occult gastrointestinal bleeding. Hepatosplenic schistosomiasis develops insidiously because of cumulative fibrotic injury. Stigmata of liver failure are absent unless comorbid viral or alcoholic hepatitis is present. Patients with end-stage hepatosplenic schistosomiasis die from variceal hemorrhage. Diagnosis of schistosomiasis is confirmed by finding eggs in stool or biopsy specimens. Antischistosome antibodies may identify infected tourists returning from endemic areas. Circulating schistosome antigens distinguish current from past infections. Praziquantel is the schistosomicidal drug of choice. Most cases of hepatosplenic schistosomiasis resolve after effective treatment. Prophylactic propranolol may prevent hemorrhage in praziquantel-treated patients with high-grade varices. Sclerotherapy is also efficacious. When necessary, patients with hepatosplenic schistosomiasis tolerate decompressive surgery well.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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