Diagnosis of tapeworm infection

A health care provider tests for a tapeworm infection in the intestines using a test of a stool sample. A lab test may find pieces of tapeworms or eggs. You may give a sample on more than one day.

Diagnosis of larval cyst infection

  • Imaging exam. Providers use imaging tests to find larval cysts. These may include CT scans, MRI scans or ultrasound. Larval cysts are sometimes found during an imaging exam for another illness before the cysts cause disease.
  • Blood test. Providers may use a blood test to confirm a diagnosis. A lab exam may find immune system antibodies to the larval cysts in a blood sample.


Treatment for tapeworm infection

Your health care provider treats a tapeworm infection in the intestines with anti-parasitic drugs. These include:

  • Praziquantel (Biltricide).
  • Albendazole.
  • Nitazoxanide (Alinia).

These drugs kill the tapeworm but not the eggs. You need to wash your hands well with soap and water after using the toilet. This protects you and other people from the spread of tapeworm eggs.

Your health care provider will schedule follow-up appointments. They use tests of stool samples to see if the treatment has worked.

Treatments for larval cyst infection

Treating a larval cyst infection depends on the location or effects of the infection. Treatments often include:

  • Anti-parasitic drugs. Albendazole and praziquantel are used to treat larval cysts in the brain or central nervous system.
  • Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids can reduce swelling and other immune system activity that may damage organs, muscles or other tissues.
  • Surgery. When possible, a surgeon removes a larval cyst.
  • Surgery alternative. Sometimes, when surgery isn't possible, another treatment may be used. A specialist uses a fine needle to remove some fluid from the cyst. They inject a treatment into the cyst to kill it. Then they remove all of the fluid in the cyst.

Other treatments to manage complications and symptoms may include:

  • Anti-epileptic medicine. These drugs help prevent or stop seizures caused by larval cysts in the brain.
  • Shunt. A tube, called a shunt, may be used to drain excess fluid in the brain.

Preparing for your appointment

You'll likely see your health care provider first. You may be referred to a doctor who treats problems in the brain and central nervous system, called a neurologist. Or you may see a doctor who treats problems in the digestive system, called a gastroenterologist.

To prepare for your appointment, write down answers to the following questions.

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Does anything improve your symptoms or make them worse?
  • Have you eaten any raw or undercooked meat or fish?
  • Have you traveled recently? Where?
  • Have you been around anyone with a tapeworm infection?
  • What drugs, herbal remedies or dietary supplements do you take?