The efficacy of albendazole in hydatid disease is still unclear, because there has been no study that assessed the status of the parasite after treatment.The significance of albendazole-induced echographic changes in the cyst therefore cannot be judged. We did a prospective, controlled, randomised, open study of albendazole in patients with liver hydatid disease, and assessed parasite viability after treatment.
18 patients received no albendazole treatment (controls), 18 received albendazole (10 mg/kg daily) for 1 month (group A), and 19 received the drug for about 3 months (group B).Echography was done before and during treatment; all patients underwent surgery on completion. Parasite (protoscolex viability and development of cysts in mice) and ultrastructure studies were done for all cysts removed. 8 (50%) of cysts in the control group, 13 (72%) in group A, and 16 (94%) in group B were non-viable (p=0.015). Protoscolex and cyst viability were significantly (p=0.039 and p=0.018, respectively) lower in treated patients than in controls. Treatment was also significantly associated with total cyst membrane disintegration. 68% of cysts treated for 3 months showed echographic changes, and only 1 of 20 cysts showing echographic changes during treatment was judged viable.
The efficacy of albendazole at a dose of 10 mg/kg daily for 3 months suggests that it is a suitable alternative to surgery in uncomplicated hydatid liver disease, as initial treatment.