Echinococcosis in a non-endemic country - 20-years' surgical experience from a Norwegian tertiary referral Centre

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2022 Aug;57(8):953-957. doi: 10.1080/00365521.2022.2046846. Epub 2022 Mar 4.


Background: In Scandinavia, the incidence of cystic echinococcosis (CE) and alveolar echinococcosis (AE) is low and almost exclusively an imported disease following the trends of immigration. The aim of the study was to review available data on clinical management and outcome for patients treated at Oslo University Hospital, a referral centre for echinococcosis in Norway, with special emphasis on surgical treatment.

Methods: All patients admitted with echinococcosis between January 2000 and December 2020 were identified. Medical records were reviewed retrospectively concerning patient demographics, treatment strategy, surgical procedures, complications and outcomes.

Results: A total of 92 patients with median age 37 years (range 4-85) were identified. Sixty-eight patients (74%) were symptomatic. All patients, except for two, were immigrants to Norway and born in endemic areas. Ninety patients were diagnosed with CE and two with AE. Location of the cysts was most commonly in the liver (86%) followed by peritoneum, lungs, and spleen. All patients with active cysts were treated with albendazole. Surgical treatment was performed in 51 (56%) patients. The most common reason for abstaining from surgical treatment was that the diagnostic work-up revealed inactive cysts or interventional radiology was performed. Of the 51 patients who underwent surgery, a radical procedure was performed in 32 (64%) cases, a conservative procedure in 12 (24%), and a combination in six (12%). Clavien Dindo grade ≥3 complications occurred in 30%, and 90-day mortality was 2%. Bile leakage occurred in seven patients and was treated successfully with endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography with biliary stent placement in all patients.

Conclusion: In a low-endemic area like Norway, management of echinococcus includes medical therapy, surgery, and/or interventional radiology. Surgical intervention seems to be effective, and is associated with acceptable morbidity rates.

Keywords: Echinococcosis; non-endemic; surgical treatment; treatment outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cysts*
  • Echinococcosis* / epidemiology
  • Echinococcosis* / surgery
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic* / complications
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic* / epidemiology
  • Echinococcosis, Hepatic* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Young Adult

Supplementary concepts

  • Alveolar echinococcosis