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Current Affairs

Lung damage signs in post-mortem of Covid-19 cases

Date: 23 August 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

A new postmortem study of Covid-19 patients has found severe damage to the lungs of the deceased, and signs of blood clotting in major organs.

 

Background

Although the numbers of patients examined is small, this is the largest study to date of postmortem examinations on Covid-19 patients in England.

 

Details

  • The study was led by researchers at Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and is published in The Lancet Microbe.

  • It found that all these patients had lung injuries and early scarring of the lungs as a result of the coronavirus, as well as injury to their kidneys. Nine patients also had thromboses (a blood clot) in at least one major organ (heart, lung or kidney).

  • All patients had evidence of acute renal tubular injury -- a kidney injury that can lead to kidney failure or damage. The main causes are low blood flow to the kidneys and severe infections.

  • The researchers found evidence of acute pancreatitis in two of the patients. Acute pancreatitis is a condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed. It can be treated with fluids into the veins but in some cases can develop into serious complications and cause organ failure.

  • The researchers also found evidence of a rare fungal infection, in one of the patients, called Mucormycosis. Mucormycosis is an infection that may spread through the bloodstream to affect another part of the body. 

  • The researchers believe that the findings could help guide clinicians on treating complications as a result of Covid-19, such as using blood thinners to prevent blood clots from developing. They also hope that better understandings of the key complications in severe cases could help clinicians develop new ways to monitor and treat the disease.

  • Four of the patients were women. In the patients studied, high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were the most common contributing factors to death. All patients developed a fever and had at least two respiratory symptoms such as a cough and shortness of breath.