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Ascaris Lumbricoides Treatment & Management

  • Author: Aaron Dora-Laskey, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
Updated: May 18, 2016

Emergency Department Care

Early infection (larval migration)

Inhaled beta-agonists may be indicated.

Steroids for pulmonary symptoms are controversial.

Whether anthelmintic therapy is effective against larval stages is unclear. (Stool ova microscopy will likely be negative at this phase). Because infection in the early phase is rarely serious, generally treatment is delayed until definitive diagnosis can be made.

Established infection (adult phase)

Benzimidazoles are the mainstay of treatment of symptomatic and asymptomatic infections. They are poorly systemically absorbed and thus have low human toxicity and exert their action directly on worms. The most common members of this family are albendazole and mebendazole.

Treatment of bowel obstruction includes intravenous hydration, nasogastric suctioning, electrolyte monitoring, and laparotomy if conservative measures fail. Colonoscopy and esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) may be useful in removing obstructing masses of worms.

Piperazine citrate, a helminth paralytic, has been suggested in cases of obstruction; however, it is no longer commercially available in the United States.

Hepatobiliary ascariasis typically responds to similarly conservative therapy, but it may require invasive intervention (eg, ERCP) should this fail, or if there are coexisting stones or strictures. It may also be indicated in cases of pyogenic cholangitis and acute pancreatitis.



Bowel or hepatobiliary obstruction may require surgical or gastroenterologic consultation.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Aaron Dora-Laskey, MD Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Wright State University, Boonshoft School of Medicine

Aaron Dora-Laskey, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Eric L Weiss, MD, DTM&H Medical Director, Office of Service Continuity and Disaster Planning, Fellowship Director, Stanford University Medical Center Disaster Medicine Fellowship, Chairman, SUMC and LPCH Bioterrorism and Emergency Preparedness Task Force, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Surgery (Emergency Medicine), Stanford University Medical Center

Eric L Weiss, MD, DTM&H is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, American Medical Association, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Southeastern Surgical Congress, Southern Oncology Association of Practices, Southern Clinical Neurological Society, Wilderness Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Ugo Anthony Ezenkwele, MD, MPH Vice Chief of Emergency Medicine, Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center; Associate Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine

Ugo Anthony Ezenkwele, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, National Medical Association, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Jon Mark Hirshon, MD, MPH, PhD Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Jon Mark Hirshon, MD, MPH, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Public Health Association, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, University of South Carolina School of Medicine; Attending Physician, Clinical Instructor, Compliance Officer, Department of Emergency Medicine, Palmetto Richland Hospital

Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Medical Association, Columbia Medical Society, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, South Carolina College of Emergency Physicians, South Carolina Medical Association

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: Employed contractor - Chief Editor for Medscape.

Additional Contributors

Mark Louden, MD Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Miami, Leonard M Miller School of Medicine

Mark Louden, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the medical review of this article by Joseph U Becker, MD.

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Adult Ascaris lumbricoides.
Life cycle of Ascaris lumbricoides.
Ascaris lumbricoides egg.
Adult Ascaris lumbricoides in biliary system.
The roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides causes ascariasis. Worms can reach 10-30 cm in length. Clinical disease results from effects of pulmonary larval migration, intestinal obstruction, or migration through the biliary tree.
Ascaris lumbricoides egg in feces (formalin-ethyl acetate sedimentation method).
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiogram shows long, linear, filling defect in common bile duct. Image courtesy of
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