Some coronavirus patients may suffer brain damage as a result of the devastating infection, warn doctors around the world.
A 70-year-old Florida patient has lost the ability to speak at least temporarily, the New York Times reported.
Brain scans of a woman in her 50s taken in Detroit revealed that some of her brain cells had died as a result of a rare complication of the infection.
And similar attacks on the central nervous system have been seen in Italy and China.
While neurological complications so far seem to affect a small subset of the more than 700,000 people infected with the virus worldwide, reports paint a disturbing picture of its potential for long-term effects.
Dark spots on brain scans (represented by arrows) indicate cell death in patients with encephalitis, the brain swelling of a 58-year-old woman treated in Detroit developed from COVID-19 (file)
“We need to think about how we will integrate patients with severe neurological conditions into our treatment paradigm,” said Dr. Elissa Fory, neurologist Henry Ford, who was part of the team that diagnosed the woman in Detroit. .
“This complication is as devastating as a serious lung disease.
By the time the woman, a 58-year-old employee, enrolled in a Henry Ford health care system in Detroit, she already had not only the typical cough and fever seen in coronavirus patients, but was confused, disoriented and lethargic.
Doctors organized a large panel of diagnostic tests on women, including tests for chickenpox virus and West Nile virus.
They also took a sample of his cerebrospinal fluid to check for signs of a bacterial infection attacking his central nervous system.
Everything came back negative.
But her telltale signs of fever and cough had indicated the correct diagnosis. The woman tested positive for COVID-19.
More than 200,000 Americans suffer from coronavirus and doctors are now warning health professionals about the need to look for the neurological symptoms of the infection (file)
Neurological symptoms are not considered typical of the coronavirus, so doctors also performed a CT scan of his brain.
Dark spots on the result may indicate that parts of his brain are less dense than they should appear in a healthy brain.
This told the woman’s doctors that fluid had accumulated in these areas or that pieces of her brain cells had died.
In particular, the woman’s thalamus was damaged. The thalamus sends sensory information from the extremities of the body to the cerebral cortex, which processes these signals.
Additional analyzes revealed that the woman’s brain also had lesions, or bleeding from the brain, in her temporal lobes, which involve consciousness and memory as well as sensation.
Overall, the analyzes confirmed the doctors’ suspicions.
“The team suspected encephalitis initially, but then the subsequent CCT and MRI scans diagnosed it,” said Dr. Fory.
Encephalitis is a dangerous condition of cerebral swelling that can occur as a result of a number of types of trauma, as well as serious infections.
Reports of brain swelling and neurological symptoms have so far been sporadic in US coronavirus patients, but doctors who have seen them warn to watch for confusion (file)
It is regularly seen in influenza, chickenpox or enterovirus, and can be the cause of death.
Brain swelling can also trigger seizures in these patients, as seen in the 74-year-old man with coronavirus in Boca Raton, Florida. He also suffered from chronic lung disease and Parkinson’s disease, but his loss of speech combined with other symptoms alerted the man’s doctors to the possibility of encephalitis.
Reports of this complication have been only sporadic in the United States so far, but Italy has seen enough cases for a University of Brescia hospital to create an entire “NeuroCovid” unit to administer to patients who had preexisting or developed neurological conditions.
And Chinese researchers were the first to report the brain complication in some patients with coronavirus.
Now the Detroit team is warning that American doctors should be on the lookout for neurological symptoms in the higher number of coronavirus patients in the United States.