Since the pandemic, researchers have found out how COVID-19 affects other parts of the body in addition to the lungs.
For the first time, a visual correlation was found between the severity of the disease in the lungs using CT scans and the severity of its effects on the patient’s brain using MRI scans. This research was published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology. It will be presented at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Neuroradiology (ASNR) and has also been selected as a semi-finalist for that organization’s Cornelius Dyke Award.
The results show that using lung CT scans of patients diagnosed with COVID-19, doctors may be able to predict the severity of other neurological problems that may appear on MRI scans of the brain, which will help improve Previous treatment will help patient outcomes and symptom identification.
CT imaging can detect diseases of the lungs better than MRI, another medical imaging technique. However, MRI can detect many problems in the brain, especially in COVID-19 patients, that cannot be seen on CT images.
The study was conducted by Dr. Achala Vagal, Professor in the Department of Radiology, and Dr. med. Abdelkader Mahammedi, Assistant Professor of Radiology. Both are radiologists from UC Health and members of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute.
We have seen patients with COVID-19 experience stroke, cerebral hemorrhage, and other disorders that affect the brain. Through patient experience, we find that neurological symptoms correlate with those of more severe respiratory diseases. However, little information is available to identify possible associations between imaging disorders in the brain and lungs in COVID-19 patients. Imaging is used by clinicians to demonstrate how and how severely a disease develops, and to help make final decisions about a patient’s care.
Abdelkader Mahammedi, MD
In this study, conducted not only at UC but also at major facilities in Spain, Italy and Brazil, researchers reviewed electronic health records and images of COVID-19 patients in the hospital from March 3 to June 25, 2020. Patients diagnosed with COVID-19 included experienced neurological issues where both lung and brain images were available.
Of 135 COVID-19 patients with abnormal CT lung scans and neurological symptoms, 49 or 36% also developed abnormal brain scans and were more likely to have stroke symptoms.
Mahammedi said this study will help doctors classify patients into groups who are more likely to develop imaging disorders based on the severity of the disease found on their CT scans.
He adds that this correlation could be important for the implementation of therapies, particularly in stroke prevention, to improve outcomes in patients with COVID-19.
These results are important as they further show that severe lung disease from COVID-19 can mean serious brain complications, and we have the imaging to prove it. Future larger studies are needed to better understand the connection. However, for the time being, we hope these results can be used to predict care and ensure that patients are getting the best outcomes. ”
Abdelkader Mahammedi, MD
It also shows the power of collaboration and open science in which doctors and scientists share data. This is an international, multicenter study, and a heterogeneous cohort is always helpful, especially for understanding COVID-19.
Achala Vagal, MD
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UC co-authors of the paper include Mary Gaskill-Shipley; Sangita Kapur; Soma Sengupta; Suha Bachir; Lily Wang; Gavin Udstuen; Brady Williamson; Vivek Khandwala; Ram Chadalavada; and Daniel Woo.
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute for Aging Research) (NS103824, NS117643, NS100417, 1U01NS100699, U01NS110772). Researchers do not cite any conflict of interest.