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Role of irrigation with hypertonic saline for a recurrent skull base hydatid cyst: Case report and review of the literature

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September 1, 2010
by Sadaf Zia, FCPS, Ather Enam, MD, Iftikhar Salahuddin, MD, and Aslam Khan, MD


Hydatid cyst is a parasitic disease caused by the tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus. This disease is a rare finding in the head and neck region, and its presentation varies according to the area involved. We report the case of a 25-year-old woman who presented with bilateral neck swelling, which was found on histopathologic examination to be caused by a hydatid cyst. The patient underwent surgical drainage of the cyst and a modified radical mastoidectomy, followed by a 3-month course of treatment with albendazole. However, she experienced a recurrence in the left neck region 1 year later. At that time, reexploration of the left mastoid cavity was performed, with debridement of diseased occipital bone and foramen magnum. Intraoperatively, we used a novel method of saline irrigation with 3% hypertonic saline, previously not tested on exposed nerves, in an attempt to prevent further recurrence. Four years after the second surgery, no disease recurrence was found, and no neurologic sequelae were noted. We conclude that hypertonic saline irrigation can be considered as an option for preventing recurrence in cases that are difficult to clear surgically, especially around cranial nerves, although more studies are needed to document the safety of this approach.

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