Neurocysticercosis is a neurologic parasitic disease caused by the encysted larva of the tapeworm Taenia solium and is the most important parasitic disease of the human central nervous system. It is the most common cause of acquired epilepsy in endemic settings and constitutes a public health challenge for most of the developing world. Nowadays, however, as a result of globalization, neurocysticercosis is being seen more frequently in developed countries as well. Neurocysticercosis is acquired through fecal-oral contamination, and the disease course is complex, with two intermediate hosts (ie, pigs and humans) and a definitive host (humans). Traditionally, it has been classified into active and nonactive forms according to disease location. Radiologists must be aware of its imaging appearance, which is quite variable, as is the differential diagnosis. Imaging findings depend on several factors, including the stage of the life cycle of T solium at presentation; the number and location (ie, subarachnoid, cisternal, or intraventricular) of parasites; and associated complications such as vascular involvement (ie, arteritis with or without infarction), inflammatory response (ie, edema, gliosis, or arachnoiditis), and, in ventricular forms, degree of obstruction. Thus, the diagnostic approach, management, and prognosis for neurocysticercosis differ widely depending on the type of infection.
© RSNA, 2010.