Brain Hydatid Cyst (with Surgical Video)

This video is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen on YouTube. It shows the oh-so-careful surgical removal of an egg-sized cyst (intact) from a person's brain. The cyst is a hydatid cyst, which is the result of a parasitic infection by tapeworm larvae(Echinococcus). Generally speaking, it does not occur in the USA, but rather occurs in Mediterranean countries, the Middle East, the southern part of South America, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, and southern parts of Africa. The cysts, which are initiated by one larvae, eventually come to house thousands of tapeworm larvae. So it is very important not to rupture the cyst during its removal, else the host could easily die. The cysts can occur in any organ, in this case, the brain. For more about the life cycle of the tapeworm, go here.

The video below uses saline to gradually "float" the cyst out of the brain. The neurosurgeon gently squirts small volumes of saline into the space around and behind the cyst until it neatly plops into the surgical pan, intact. The patient, a 16 year old girl, fully recovered.

Don't forget to listen for the doctor's remark at the end, when he sees the cyst. (The doctor was Dr P V Ramana , Neurosurgeon of Care Hospital, Visakhapatnam, India)

A few more tidbits

- I found out the precise location of the cyst in a comment by the doctor:

"It was intraparenchymal. I had to go transsulcal. I chose the place where the cortex was thinned out most.The cortical opening was done by just separation of tissue rather than cuting."

- And, what happens to the hole the cyst left in the brain?

"The empty space initially gets filled up by the fluid which covers thr brain called CSF, then the brain which was compressed by the cyst expands to normal state filling up the space."

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Great job, Dr. Ramana!
As an OR nurse who sees so many rush to get in and get out of a surgery, it is refreshing to observe your patient and most appropriate approach. Many, many blessings to you.

By oceanswimmer (not verified) on 16 Oct 2008 #permalink

Yeesh! New Zealand? I'm glad no one told me that before I went. Probably associated with the sheep, I imagine. I am far too squeamish to actually watch the video though.

Wow. Mrs. cope is an RN so I am used to HEARING about lots of weird things the human body can do and experience but this was pretty cool.

I must admit to being a bit on the squeamish side myself. Hard to believe that given the fact that when I took AP bio in high school, we dissected pithed frogs, experimented on baby chicks by injecting them with testosterome and dissected all manner of dead, pickled creatures and I never thought anything of it at the time.

Thanks. I will definitely share that with the bio teachers in my department.

A golf-ball sized hydatid cyst
Is not the sort of thing I'd list
As one I'd like to try.
Indeed, I'd rather think it marvy
Not to host so many larvae--
I'm not that kind of guy.

In juxtaposing these two posts
Where humans serve unwilling hosts
To tapeworms or bacilli,
And treatment may be surgery
Or bleeding, charms, or mercury,
You make my spine go chilly.

I won't say much, but I concede
That in the past, I've had the need
To seek a doctor's care;
I'm fine, of course, but even so,
I think: It's not that long ago
My "treatment" would be prayer.

This girl here in your video
(My daughter's age, I'll have you know)
Is lucky as can be--
To live in this, the present day
Where science, not the church, holds sway
I hope that you'll agree.

For her, and for my daughter's sake
I'd like to take this chance to make
A science-based reply;
For researchers, for doctors, nurses,
Not for priests, or prayer, or curses
The stakes are much too high.

More here:…

Although a little gruesome, it was a marvellous bit of dexterity by the doc, and to know that the patient survived, absolutely wonderful, thanks for sharing!

Homie bear,

The chances of getting a significant tapeworm infestation in a country like New Zealand would be highly unusual.

In fact, if you did get an infestation, it would probably just be a fluke.

Chortle, chortle, tee-hee.

Never heard of these occurring in New Zealand (where I live), but very interesting indeed

By Jase Keydude (not verified) on 09 Jan 2008 #permalink

Okay I watched it- and you're right it's not too bad. Pretty amazing how they did it, actually. Brilliant and simple at the same time.


I was happy to read that the youth made a full recovery.

But what I found most interesting (as I am not a neuroscientist, but an artist) was the juxtaposition between the high-level of surgery occurring as the cheesy background music played and played and played in the background. I mean, given the relatively short duration of the actual cyst removal, they could have been in an elevator for all I knew.

By some internet guy (not verified) on 09 Jan 2008 #permalink

Cool. Check out the before and after CT of someone with multiple hydatid cysts! It's amazing that people fully recover from it.

Your blog is very beautiful

The surgeon was probably playing some music that inspired and/or calmed him. Sounded like either a devotional song or maybe a uplifting modern song. I've seen surgeons in the USA do the same in their operating rooms.

By pradeepsp (not verified) on 09 Jan 2008 #permalink

That was an amazing video - I was surprised at the actual size of the cyst; it looked much smaller than it turned out to be.

Re the music, I suppose using "Head Games" by Foreigner would have been in bad taste.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist! : ) )

Thanks for the comments. I am the neurosurgeon who operated on this girl.
The music in the back ground was Indian music.
The poem by Cuttlefish is great.


By Dr P V Ramana (not verified) on 27 Apr 2008 #permalink