(ORDO NEWS) — Using a type of MRI magnetic susceptibility-weighted imaging scientists have found abnormalities in brain structure in people who have had Covid-19.
Most of the changes were observed in the frontal lobe and brain stem. They persisted six months after recovery.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five adults develop long-term consequences after a coronavirus infection.
These include neurological symptoms such as difficulty thinking and concentrating, headache, trouble sleeping, dizziness, changes in smell or taste, depression and anxiety.
However, studies have shown that Covid-19 can cause organ changes even in asymptomatic patients.
Now, American scientists have conducted a long-term study of the effects of coronavirus disease on the brain. For this, susceptibility-weighted imaging was used – this is venographic MRI imaging.
This method allows you to determine how much the blood will become magnetized in the applied magnetic field, which allows you to identify a variety of neurological conditions, including microbleeds, vascular malformations, brain tumors and strokes.
Changes in the susceptibility of brain regions to a magnetic field may indicate local disorders. For example, about abnormal amounts of paramagnetic compounds or, on the contrary, a lack of calcium or iron.
The scientists examined the brain images of 46 Covid-19 survivors and 30 healthy controls. Imaging was performed within six months of recovery. The most common long-term symptoms among survivors were fatigue, as well as problems with sleep, concentration, and memory.
The results of the work showed that in patients who had a coronavirus infection, there was a significantly increased susceptibility in the frontal lobe and brain stem compared to people from the control group. In the frontal lobe, disturbances were observed primarily in the structure of the white matter.
They were especially pronounced in the orbital part of the inferior frontal gyrus, which is involved in speech activity and is associated with various cognitive functions, including attention, imagination, and social cognitive processes.
The researchers also found a significant difference in responsiveness in the brainstem region associated with many critical bodily functions, including coordination of the endocrine system, transmission of sensory and motor signals to the cerebral cortex, and regulation of circadian rhythms.
In some patients, these changes persisted even six months after recovery. So the scientists now plan to re-examine these people and find out if these anomalies persist for an even longer period of time.
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