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Effect of COVID-19 on central nervous system

Date: 29 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous


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 shown virus’s impact on the central nervous system.



Altered mental status and stroke have been found to be the most common neurological symptoms in Covid-19 patients. This could help physicians notice red flags earlier.



  • 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

  • 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.

  • Researchers investigated neurological symptoms and imaging findings in patients from major institutions in Italy. 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.

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