Policy & Regulation
Multi-institutional international study find complications of the central nervous system represent significant cause of morbidity and mortalit in COVID-19 patients
29 November 2021 -

The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), an association of radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists promoting excellence in patient care and health care delivery through education, research and technologic innovation, revealed on Monday that it will present a study on brain complications of COVID-19 at its annual meeting on 30 November 2021.

According to the RSNA, this large multi-institutional international study has found that approximately one in 100 patients hospitalised with COVID-19 are likely to develop complications of the central nervous system which can include stroke, haemorrhage and other potentially fatal complications.

Scott H. Faro, MD, FASFNR, professor of radiology and neurology and director of the Division of Neuroradiology/Head & Neck Imaging at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, initiated the study after discovering that existing literature on central nervous system complications in hospitalised COVID-19 infected patients was based on a relatively small number of cases. He was quoted as saying: "Our study shows that central nervous system complications represent a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in this devastating pandemic."

Dr Faro and his colleagues analyzed nearly 40,000 cases of hospitalised COVID-19 positive patients from seven US and four western European university hospitals, who had been admitted between September 2019 and June 2020. The average age was 66 years and there were twice as many men as women.

Reportedly, the most common cause of admission was confusion and altered mental status, followed by fever. Many of the patients had comorbidities such as hypertension, cardiac disease and diabetes. There were 442 acute neuroimaging findings that were most likely associated with the viral infection. The overall incidence of central nervous system complications in this large patient group was 1.2%.

In addition, the researchers discovered a small percentage of unusual findings, such as acute disseminating encephalomyelitis, an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, a syndrome that mimics many of the symptoms of a stroke.

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