(CTN NEWS) – A recent research investigation has unveiled significant organ impairment in individuals grappling with long-term effects of COVID-19, especially among those who had been hospitalized due to the virus.
The extent of this damage seems to be associated with the initial illness’s severity. According to media reports, these findings instill optimism regarding the development of more efficient therapies for long COVID while augmenting our comprehension of this intricate condition.
The study, which has been published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine, scrutinized 259 patients who had suffered severe COVID-19 and necessitated hospitalization.
Five months after their hospital discharge, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of their vital organs displayed noticeable distinctions in comparison to a control group of 52 individuals who had never contracted COVID-19.
MRI Scans Highlight Organ Abnormalities in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans conducted five months after hospital discharge revealed striking differences in vital organ health compared to a control group of 52 individuals who had not contracted COVID-19.
These scans showcased abnormalities in several crucial organs, including the lungs, brain, and kidneys.
- Lung Abnormalities: Individuals hospitalized due to COVID-19 were three times more likely to exhibit lung irregularities, with scans being 14 times more likely to identify issues in this organ.
- Brain Abnormalities: MRI scans indicated a threefold increased likelihood of detecting brain abnormalities in those who had experienced severe COVID-19.
- Kidney Irregularities: The scans also demonstrated double the probability of detecting kidney irregularities in individuals with a history of severe COVID-19.
Interestingly, no significant disparities were observed in the condition of the heart or liver.
Long-Term COVID-19 Organ Abnormalities
Dr. Betty Raman, the primary researcher on the study from the University of Oxford, remarked,
“Five months after their hospital discharge following COVID-19, we observed a higher incidence of abnormalities in the lungs, brain, and kidneys among these patients compared to the group who had never contracted COVID-19.”
She further explained, “The patient’s age, the severity of their COVID-19 illness, and the presence of other concurrent health conditions all emerged as significant factors influencing the likelihood of detecting damage in these vital organs within the body.”
Long-Term COVID-19 and New Treatment Prospects:
The findings are part of a bigger study looking at the long-term effects of Covid on those who were hospitalised, known as the Phosp-Covid study.
The researchers found some symptoms matched up with signs of organ damage revealed by the MRI scans – for example, a tight chest and cough with abnormalities in the lungs.
However, not all of the symptoms experienced by those living with long Covid could be directly linked to what was seen on the scans.
Dr Raman says it also seems that abnormalities in more than one organ were more common among people who had been admitted to hospital and were still reporting physical and mental health problems after they had recovered from the initial infection.
“What we are seeing is that people with multi-organ pathology on MRI – that is, they had more than two organs affected – were four times more likely to report severe and very severe mental and physical impairment,” she said.
“Our findings also highlight the need for longer term multidisciplinary follow-up services focused on pulmonary and extrapulmonary health (kidneys, brain and mental health), particularly for those hospitalised for Covid.”
Prof Chris Brightling, from the University of Leicester and who is leading the Phosp-Covid study, says the research is part of a wider effort to understand the group of different symptoms that make up the syndrome known as long Covid.
“This detailed study of whole-body imaging confirms that changes in multiple organs is seen months after being hospitalised for Covid,” he said.
“The Phosp-Covid study is working on understanding why this happens and how we can develop tests and new treatments for long Covid.”
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