Basidiobolomycosis is a rare disease caused by the fungus Basidiobolus ranarum, member of the class Zygomycetes, order Entomophthorales, found worldwide. Usually basidiobolomycosis is a subcutaneous infection but rarely gastrointestinal manifestations have been described; 13 adults and 10 children and a few retroperitoneal or pulmonary cases. In gastrointestinal basidiobolomycosis the colon is most frequently involved, usually presenting with subacute mild abdominal pain. In contrast to children only very few described adult patients had hepatic masses. Definitive diagnosis requires culture, serological testing can be helpful. The fungal morphology and the Splendore-Hoeppli phenomenon are characteristic histological features. There are no prominent risk factors. Usually surgery and prolonged antifungal therapy are required.
A 61 year old man presented with progressive left abdominal pain and constipation since a few months. Colonoscopy showed an obstructing tumour in the descending colon, and a hemicolectomy was performed. Histology showed inflammation, possibly caused by a fungal or parasitic infection, without definite identification of an organism. A few weeks postoperatively a CT scan made because of abdominal discomfort, revealed a livermass (6 cm). Treatment with metronidazole, directed against an amoebic liver abscess, was unsuccessful. He developed a marked eosinophilia (27.7%). A liver biopsy was performed and the patient was referred to a university hospital.
A repeated CT scan showed a livermass of 9 cm diameter. Review of colon and liver biopsy samples showed extensive necrosis and histiocytes, multinucleated giant cells and numerous eosinophils. Grocott stained sections contained unusually large hyphae surrounded by strongly eosinophilic material in haematoxylin and eosin stained sections (Splendore-Hoeppli phenomenon). A presumptive diagnosis of Basidiobolus spp. infection was made and treated with amphotericin B (Itraconazol contra-indicated because of renal insufficiency). A few days later the patient died of a septic shock. After autopsy Basidiobolus ranarum was cultured from liver, gallbladder and colon.
Our patient died of gastrointestinal basidiobolomycosis with an obstructing colon tumour and a large hepatic mass. This was a rare presentation of basidiobolomycosis and the second fatal case described worldwide.