Updated: May 28, 2020 2:27:11 pm
As a respiratory disease, Covid-19 primarily attacks the lungs, but other effects too have been emerging, including in the abdomen, the skin and the brain. A new study has reviewed the existing evidence about the last: the virus’s impact on the central nervous system. Researchers from the University of Cincinnati and three Italian institutions have reviewed neuroimaging and neurological symptoms in patients with Covid-19 and published their findings in the journal Radiology.
Altered mental status and stroke have been found to be the most common neurological symptoms in Covid-19 patients. The authors say this could help physicians notice red flags earlier.
“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,” lead author Abdelkader Mahammedi, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Cincinnati, said in a statement. “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.”
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Researchers investigated neurological symptoms and imaging findings in patients from three major institutions in Italy: University of Brescia; University of Eastern Piedmont (Novara); and University of Sassari. The study included images from 725 hospitalised patients with confirmed Covid-19 infection between February 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.
Investigators 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. Altered mental status was more common in older adults.
Source: University of Cincinnati
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