Blastocystis hominis infection in a post-cardiotomy patient on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support: A case report and literature review

Chih Hsuan Chen, Hsin Yun Sun, Hsiung Fei Chien, Hong Shiee Lai, Nai Kuan Chou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION Opportunistic pathogens can cause severe damage leading to irreversible complications in immune-compromised patients. Here we describe a patient who sustained Blastocystis hominis infection resulting in severe sepsis while on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support, and the course of treatment taken to treat him. PRESENTATION OF CASE Our case, a 34-year-old Filipino man, was hospitalized for valvular disease and received valve replacements. ECMO and an intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) were implemented when the patient developed progressive heart failure after cardiac surgery. Unfortunately, the patient suffered from sepsis with persistent fever and diarrhea, and subsequent examinations indicated the patient was infected by B. hominis. After adequate administration of the antibiotic metronidazole, the patient's symptoms subsided and he was discharged. DISCUSSION Blastocystis hominis is a unicellular protozoa commonly found in the intestinal tract, and the prevalence of B. hominis is 1.5-10% in developed countries and 30-50% in developing countries. The patient needed the support of ECMO and IABP, was immunocompromised to a certain extent; B. hominis can be a harmful opportunistic pathogen for them and lead to severe irreversible complications such as death. CONCLUSION This is the first published article showing that the opportunistic pathogen, B. hominis, can cause severe infection in patients on ECMO support, a result that should be kept in mind when patients come from a place with a high prevalence of B. hominis. The prophylactic medication should be administered routinely when patients live in the region and extracorporeal life-support is used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-639
Number of pages3
JournalInternational Journal of Surgery Case Reports
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Blastocystis hominis
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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