Covid-19 is still not fully understood as a disease. But one thing is certain: Infection with Sars-CoV-2 can also lead to long-term impairments. These can be seen in special MRI images of the brain even six months after recovery.
Using the data from a special imaging method, researchers have identified changes in the brain of Covid 19 patients whose recovery was up to six months ago. A specific magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) procedure was used for the international team's examination. In clinical practice, the method is primarily used to detect and monitor microbleeds, vascular malformations, brain tumors or strokes.
"Studies have not previously focused on Covid-19 changes in the brain's magnetic susceptibility, although several case reports already point to such abnormalities," said Sapna S. Mishra of the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, who was involved in the study, one according to notification. "Our study highlights this new aspect of the neurological effects of Covid-19 and reports significant abnormalities in Covid survivors."
The results of the research group showed that patients who had recovered from Covid-19 had significantly higher levels in the frontal lobe and brainstem compared to healthy controls. The clusters obtained in the frontal lobe mainly show differences in the white matter. "These brain regions are associated with fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, headaches and cognitive problems," Mishra explained.
In addition, differences in brain regions were found in the two test groups that are associated with the release of hormones, the transmission of sensory and motor signals to the cerebral cortex and the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. "Our study indicates serious long-term complications that can be caused by the coronavirus, even months after recovery from infection," Mishra continued.
Since the study results, which are to be presented next week at an annual meeting of the "Radiological Society of North America", only reflect a limited time frame, the research team has already announced that it also wants to carry out a long-term study with the test subjects. This should clarify whether the abnormalities in the brain persist over a longer period of time or even lead to a permanent change in the brain.