Macroscopic Examination, Parasites


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Subject: Macroscopic Examination, Parasites

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Definition and Use

  • Large parasitic pathogens, or fragments, may be isolated from patients. Examples include single proglottids or chains of tapeworm segments, pinworms, or ascarid worms.

  • This test is used for identification of parasites by visual inspection.

  • The submitted parasite is inspected by the naked eye or with low-power microscopy. Identification is based on specific morphologic features. Speciation of Taenia proglottids may be attempted by techniques for evaluation of lateral uterine branches, like injection of India ink through the genital pore.

  • The eggs of T. solium can infect humans. Therefore, great care must be taken in the laboratory when examining Taenia proglottids.

  • Turnaround time: 24–48 hours.


  • Positive result: A human parasitic pathogen is identified.

  • Negative result: A nonhuman pathogen or artifact is identified.


  • Limited material available for examination. The specimen may have been fragmented or damaged during collection or transport so that specific identification is impossible.

  • Common pitfall: Nonhuman pathogens, like earthworms, may be submitted for examination.