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New Imaging Study Reveals Significant Brain Alterations in COVID-19 Survivors


Up to six months following recovery, abnormalities have been observed in the brains of COVID-19 survivors. In order to examine the alterations in the brain brought on by infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the team, which was lead by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, employed a unique type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

A relatively recent MRI approach is susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI). It functions by utilizing the various ways that different materials, including blood constituents, calcium, and iron, react to magnetic fields. Brain hemorrhages, vascular abnormalities, and tumors can all be found and located with SWI.

According to research author Sapna S. Mishra, "Group-level studies have not hitherto focused on COVID-19 alterations in magnetic susceptibility of the brain despite multiple case reports signaling such abnormalities." Our research describes a novel component of COVID-19's neurological consequences and documents severe abnormalities in COVID survivors."

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection will have some long-term symptoms. As more patients contract and recover from COVID-19, a lot of study has started to concentrate on these potential long-term impacts.

However, many of the symptoms mentioned by those with long COVID seem to be neurological in nature, including brain fog, headaches, dizziness, and even anxiety and depression. Studies have shown changes in the lungs, heart, and other organs.

In order to compare imaging data from COVID-19 survivors to data from 30 healthy controls, the scientists examined imaging data from 46 survivors who had recovered within the previous six months. Fatigue, sleep disturbances, lack of attention, and memory issues were the symptoms that patients with long COVID reported experiencing the most frequently.

The outcomes demonstrated severe abnormalities in a number of frontal lobe white matter regions, including the left and right orbital inferior frontal gyri, among the COVID survivors.

According to Mishra, these parts of the brain are related to exhaustion, inability to sleep, anxiety, sadness, migraines, and cognitive issues.

Atypical readings were also observed in the right ventral diencephalon area of the brain stem. The brain stem is responsible for a wide range of vital processes; its role in controlling the sleep-wake cycle is particularly important for long COVID research.

Mishra summarized the results by saying, "This study suggests that the coronavirus may have serious long-term side effects, even months after an infection has cleared up.

Now, the researchers want to see if these brain abnormalities persist over longer time periods by conducting a longitudinal study on the same group of COVID-19 survivors.

At the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in 2022, the study is scheduled to be presented.

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