: A new research study by medical scientists from the University of Cincinnati and three Italian medical institutions involving the detailed review of neuroimaging and neurological symptoms in patients with COVID-19 may shed light on the SARS-Coronavirus's impact on the central nervous system.
The research results, published in the medical journal Radiology
, reveal that altered mental status and stroke are the most common neurological symptoms in COVID-19 patients, which the researchers say could help doctors notice warning signs earlier. https://pubs.rsna.org/doi/10.1148/radiol.2020201933
Lead researcher Dr Abdelkader Mahammedi, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiology at University of Cincinnati and a UC Health neuroradiologist told Thailand Medical News, "Studies have described the spectrum of chest imaging features of COVID-19, but only a few case reports have described COVID-19 associated neuroimaging findings. To date, this is the largest and first study in literature that characterizes the neurological symptoms and neuroimaging features in COVID-19 patients. These newly discovered patterns could help doctors better and sooner recognize associations with COVID-19 and possibly provide earlier interventions."
The study team investigated neurological symptoms and imaging findings in patients from three major institutions in Italy: University of Brescia, Brescia; University of Eastern Piedmont, Novara; and University of Sassari, Sassari. Italy was the second epicenter of the spread of COVID-19, resulting in over 30,000 deaths.
The research included images from 725 hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection between Feb. 29 and April 4. Of these, 108 (15%) had serious neurological symptoms and underwent brain or spine imaging. Most patients (99%) had brain CT scans, while 16% had head and neck CT imaging and 18% had brain MRI.
Significantly, the researchers found that 59% of patients reported an altered mental state and 31% experienced stroke, which were the most common neurological symptoms. Patients also experienced headache (12%), seizure (9%) and dizziness (4%), among other symptoms.
Dr Mahammedi said, "Of these 108 patients, 31, or 29%, had no known past medical history. Of these, aged 16 to 62 years, 10 experienced stroke and two had brain bleeds. Seventy-one, or 66%, of these patients had no findings on a brain CT, out of which 7 of them (35%) brain MRI showed abnormalities."
It was observed that altered mental status was more common in older adults.
Although the results show that the neuroimaging features of patients with COVID-19 vary, and an altered mental status and stroke are the most prevalent in patients, Dr Mahammedi says this study reveals that there are other conditions to be on the lookout for.
He further added, "This topic definitely needs more research. Currently, we have a poor understanding of the neurological symptoms in COVID-19 patients, whether these are arising from critical illness or from direct central nervous system invasion of SARS-CoV-2. We hope further s
tudy on this subject will help in uncovering clues and providing better interventions for patients."
Interestingly doctors in the US, Russia and Brazil are also reporting the emergence of newer neurological and psychiatric symptoms in COVID-19 patients.
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