Background: Worldwide, cerebral cysticercosis is one of the most common causes of seizure disorders. Modern cysticidal drugs can usually eliminate the parasite from the brain, but there have been doubts as to whether such treatment improves the seizure disorder.
Methods: We studied 240 patients with seizures and cysticercosis of the brain parenchyma. Of these patients, 118 received cysticidal therapy (albendazole, praziquantel, or both) for lesions without inflammation on imaging studies (group 1); 49 patients with similar lesions either were not offered or refused cysticidal medication (group 2). Another 58 patients with inflammation around cysts (making spontaneous resolution more likely) also did not receive cysticidal medication (group 3), whereas cysticerci were removed surgically in 15 patients (group 4). The 240 patients were followed for a mean (+/- SE) of 92 +/- 7 months.
Results: In the patients treated with cysticidal medications, there was an 82 percent reduction in the mean number of brain cysts (from 5.0 to 0.9) and a 95 percent reduction in the mean frequency of seizures (from 11.3 to 0.6 per year; P less than 0.001). After three years of follow-up, 64 patients in group 1 (54 percent) were seizure-free. By contrast, the untreated patients (group 2) averaged 10.9 seizures per year; none were seizure-free. Among those with inflamed cysts (group 3), there was a 74 percent reduction in the frequency of seizures (from 7.5 to 2.7 per year), and 18 patients (31 percent) became seizure-free. After surgical treatment (group 4), there was an 87 percent reduction in the frequency of seizures (from 12.8 to 1.7 per year), and six patients (40 percent) became seizure-free.
Conclusions: After medical treatment of neurocysticercosis, there is usually remission or marked improvement in the associated seizure disorder.