Since the urinary bladder is located at a vulnerable position in the human body, it is often affected by numerous insults. These can be infection, trauma, penetrating injury, and so on. This is a unique case of a man whose bladder was infested by a worm. This condition is called “calcified bladder”.
A 43-year-old man in Qatar presented with bloody urine and pain during urination for a month. This was a very vague presentation as blood in the urine can point to several diagnoses.
Calcified Bladder: Investigation unveils etiology
Luckily, due to timely investigation, the cause behind the symptoms was identified. Imaging of the abdomen and pelvis revealed a condition known as the Calcified Bladder.
Schistosoma was found inhabiting the space near the bladder, close to the ureters, the tubes that connect the urinary bladder to the kidneys. The eggs laid by the worms were depositing on the surface of the bladder, giving it the characteristic appearance of “egg-shell calcification”.
From freshwater to human bladder
Freshwater snails serve as hosts to the Schistosoma worms. Once the snails release the worm larvae, they can be transferred to humans via skin penetration. This can occur when the skin comes in contact with contaminated water.
“ Schistosoma haematobium was the species of the parasite responsible for the infection in the man’s bladder”Dr. Ronald Blanton, Center for Global Health and Disease, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland
Years in the making
“CALCIFICATION TAKES ABOUT FIVE YEARS TO DEVELOP.”Dr. Ronald Blanton
Dr. Blanton further elaborated that the man had likely been infected when he was only a kid!
Calcification is a common presenting problem in Schistosomiasis. However, the extensive nature of the calcification found in this man, indicates that this was a result of long-standing inflammation. Surprisingly, the symptoms had only manifested one month back.
Treatment: will the calcification go away?
Fortunately, Schistosomiasis is a treatable condition. Praziquantel can eliminate the parasite from the body completely, in addition to preventing further calcification. However, the already calcified bladder would require some time to revert to normal.