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Eur Heart J. 1996 Aug;17(8):1265-70.

Fifteen year surveillance of echinococcal heart disease from a referral hospital in Greece.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Evangelismos General Hospital, Athens, Greece.


Ten cases of hydatid heart disease were treated over a 15-year period (1980-1995). Cysts were located in the left ventricular wall (four patients), right ventricular wall (one patient), interventricular septum (one patient), interatrial septum (one patient), right atrium (one patient), pericardial cavity (one patient) and in multiple loci (one patient). Apart from two asymptomatic cases, clinical manifestations included chest pain (four patients), anaphylactic shock (one patient), constrictive pericarditis (one patient), congestive heart failure (one patient) and arterial embolism (one patient). Computed tomography was found useful in the detection of hydatid cysts and also in the determination of their morphology. Magnetic resonance was performed in three patients, with satisfactory imaging. Three out of the 10 patients died: rupture of pulmonary echinococcal cyst (one patient), massive pulmonary hydatid embolism (one patient) and rupture of an undiagnosed hydatid cyst of the right atrium during cannulation for cardiopulmonary bypass (one patient). One other patient experienced recurrent systemic embolism and became hemiplegic. Six patients were successfully treated. In five patients, the cysts were excised by open heart surgery, while in one by pericardiectomy. In addition, antiparasitic drugs were successfully used in two patients with long-term satisfactory results. In conclusion, cardiac echinococcosis is associated with an increased risk of potentially lethal complications. Newer techniques of cardiac imaging have helped locate the cysts while surgical removal may offer cure. Some patients responded to specific long-term drug treatment.

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