The study showed that by looking at lung CT scans of patients diagnosed with Covid-19, physicians may be able to predict just how badly they’ll experience other neurological problems that could show up on brain MRIs, helping improve patient outcomes and identify symptoms for earlier treatment.
“We’ve seen patients with Covid-19 experience stroke, brain bleeds and other disorders affecting the brain,” said researcher Abdelkader Mahammedi from the University of Cincinnati.
“So, we’re finding, through patient experiences, that neurological symptoms are correlating to those with more severe respiratory disease; however, little information has been available on identifying potential associations between imaging abnormalities in the brain and lungs in Covid-19 patients,” Mahammedi added.
CT imaging can detect illness in the lungs better than an MRI, another medical imaging technique. However, MRI can detect many problems in the brain, particularly in Covid-19 patients, that cannot be detected on CT images.
For the study, published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology, the research team reviewed electronic medical records and images of 135 hospitalized Covid-19 patients.
Patients who were diagnosed with Covid-19, experienced neurological issues and who had both lung and brain images available were included.
Of 135 Covid-19 patients with abnormal CT lung scans and neurological symptoms, 49, or 36 per cent, were also found to develop abnormal brain scans and were more likely to experience stroke symptoms.
The researcher notes that this study will help physicians classify patients, based on the severity of disease found on their CT scans, into groups more likely to develop brain imaging abnormalities.