September 29, 2023

‘It’s alive and wriggling’: an eight-centimeter worm removed from a patient’s brain

The patient’s MRI shows a lesion in the frontal lobe.

Center for Disease Control

For the first time ever, doctors have successfully removed the ophidacaris robertsi tumor from a patient’s brain. Of course in Australia – where else? The worm reached eight centimeters in length.

no time? Blue news sums it up for you

  • A 64-year-old Australian woman went to Medicare in January 2021 with various symptoms.
  • An MRI scan diagnosed a brain problem.
  • During the operation, the doctors removed an 8-centimeter worm.
  • Only outside experts have identified it as Ophidascaris robertsi, a roundworm that has never been found before in humans.
  • It is possible that the patient was infected by snake droppings. She’s on the mend.

«Oh my God, you won’t believe what I just found inside this lady’s brain – alive and beating.»

With these words, d. Hari Priya Pandey, her colleague, Dr. Sanjaya Senanayake was stunned. Pandey works as a neurosurgeon at Canberra Hospital, Australia, and her colleague, Senanayake, specializes in infectious diseases at the same hospital.

Her 64-year-old patient first presented to a local hospital in her home state of New South Wales in January 2021, complaining of abdominal pain and diarrhoea, followed by a dry cough, fever and night sweats.

However, the medical profession there was unable to find the cause. Because not only the problems persisted, but also forgetfulness and depression, she was referred to the larger hospital in Canberra in 2022.

Nobody expected to find this.

MRI scans revealed problems in the patient’s brain that required surgery. “But neurosurgeons certainly didn’t expect a writhing worm,” Senanayake explains to Brits. “Guardians”.

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Live worm under a microscope, magnified tenfold.
Live worm under a microscope, magnified tenfold.

Center for Disease Control

The doctor explains: “Neurosurgeons usually deal with brain infections, but this is a discovery you only make once in your career. Nobody expected to find that.” the It was, in this case, a three-inch round worm that put a question mark on the face of everyone in the operating room.

“We looked directly at the textbooks and looked at the different types of roundworms that can cause neurological disease,” Senanayake says. Because they could not find anything, outside experts had to be consulted.

Oh, my God, that’s Ovidascaris Robertsi.

“Canberra is small, so we took the worm, which was still alive, straight to a laboratory specializing in Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Sent, who knows about parasites. He looked at the creature and said, “Oh my God, that’s it.” Ovidascaris Robertsi›»

The roundworm, which was still alive, was sent to the experts: it was identified as
The roundworm, which was still alive, was sent to the experts: it was identified as ‘Ophidascaris robertsi’.

Center for Disease Control

Ophidascaris robertsi has so far only been found in snakes: this is the first time the parasite has been detected in humans. The patient lives in the Diamond Snake habitat area. Although she had no direct contact with the animals, she continued to collect wild New Zealand spinach for her cooking.

Doctors now speculate that she may have been infected by diamond python feces found in the grass. “The poor patient, she was so brave and brilliant,” says Senanayake. “She doesn’t want to be the first patient in the world to find this worm in her brain.”

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Voilà: diamond snake (Morelia spilota).
Voilà: diamond snake (Morelia spilota).


Moreover, the woman is also due larvae He needs treatment, which may have lodged in his liver, but he is said to be recovering well. Incidentally, infection of others is not possible, concludes the Guardian.