Six months later, patients admitted to the ICU due to Covid-19 more often have more microbleeds on an MRI brain scan than patients who have only been in a nursing ward. Simona Klinkhammer et al write this in the European Journal of Neurology.
Of the ICU patients, 61 percent had microbleeds on the scan, while 32 percent of the patients on the nursing ward had such damage. IC patients also appeared to have significantly more microbleeds. With regard to other abnormalities, the MRI brain scans were comparable. Yet it does not appear that they had more cognitive, psychological or neurological problems eight to ten months after an ICU admission than those who were not in the ICU. Having more microbleeds on a brain scan had no predictive value for developing cognitive problems.
The researchers included 101 ICU patients and 104 non-IC patients who were admitted between March and June 2020 due to a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Six Dutch hospitals participated, including three academic centers and three peripheral hospitals. At least six months after discharge, they underwent a 3 Tesla MRI brain scan, neuropsychological tests and a questionnaire survey to assess neurological complaints, cognitive complaints, emotional stress (anxiety, depression, PTSD) and general well-being.
Of all patients included, ie a total of 205, 41 percent met the definition of cognitive dysfunction eight to ten months after discharge. The questionnaires that the researchers administered showed that about 62 percent of the patients had three or more cognitive complaints, and 51 percent still suffered from fatigue. The researchers attribute this self-report to post-covid syndrome.