Lung abnormalities found in long COVID patients


Credit: AIXabay / CC0 public domain

Researchers have identified lung abnormalities in patients with long COVID who are experiencing shortness of breath that cannot be detected by routine tests.

In an EXPLAIN study involving a team of Sheffield, Oxford, Cardiff, and Manchester, a hyperpolarized xenon MRI scan was used to treat lung injury in long COVID patients who were not hospitalized with COVID-19 but continue to experience shortness of breath. We are investigating the possibility.

This government-sponsored study in 2021 is supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Center (BRC). The findings were published on the bioRxiv preprint server.

Previous studies used the same state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging method to confirm that patients admitted with COVID-19 months after discharge had persistent lung abnormalities.

Hyperpolarized xenon MRI is a safe scan test that requires the patient to lie down on an MRI scanner and inhale a 1 liter of hyperpolarized inert gas xenon so that it can be confirmed using MRI. Xenon behaves very much like oxygen, so radiologists can observe how gas moves from the lungs to the bloodstream.

The scan takes only a few minutes and does not require radiation exposure, so it can be repeated over time to see changes in the lungs.

The complete EXPLAIN survey recruited approximately 400 participants, and this first pilot was attended by 36 people, consisting of three groups:

  • Patients diagnosed with long COVID, seen at a long COVID clinic, and undergoing regular CT (Computed Tomography) scans
  • People who were hospitalized with COVID-19, discharged more than 3 months ago, had normal or near normal CT scans, and had not had COVID for a long time.
  • Age- and gender-matched controls with short-lived COVID symptoms and not hospitalized for COVID-19

These early results indicate that, if other tests are normal, there is “significantly impaired gas transfer” from the lungs to the bloodstream in these long COVID patients.

The method, development, and clinical application of hyperpolarized xenone MRI was pioneered by Professor Jim Wilde and the Sheffield, Lung, and Respiratory Imaging Sheffield (POLARIS) research group at the University of Sheffield. The team conducted the first clinical research in the UK and used this technology to perform the world’s first clinical diagnostic scan.

Jim Wilde, a professor of NIHR research in imaging and magnetic resonance at the University of Sheffield, said:

“Xenon follows the path of oxygen when taken up by the lungs and tells us where the airways, gas exchange membranes, and capillaries of the lungs are abnormal. This multicenter study is very exciting and really fun. We support the translation of the lung MRI method, which has been further developed for clinical use in the UK. “

EXPLAIN is one of 19 studies that received approximately Β£ 40 million in investment from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to better understand long-term COVID, from diagnosis and treatment to rehabilitation and recovery.

Fergus Gleeson, professor of radiology at Oxford University and radiologist at the NHS Foundation Trust at Oxford University Hospital, said: lung The functional test is normal. What we have now found is that although their CT scans are normal, xenon MRI scans have detected similar abnormalities in patients with long COVIDs.

“These patients had never been hospitalized when they were infected with COVID-19 and had no acute serious illness. Some patients had symptoms for one year after being infected with COVID-19. increase.

“Currently, we have important questions to answer, such as how many patients with long COVIDs perform anomalous scans, the significance of the anomalies detected, the causes of the anomalies, and their long-term consequences. These symptoms. If there is a mechanism that causes the disease, we will be able to develop more effective treatments. “

Dr. Emily Blazer, a respiratory consultant who leads the Oxford Post COVID Assessment Clinic, said: And further research to understand its clinical significance is key.

“Extending this study to more patients and examining controls that have recovered from COVID should help answer this question and better understand the mechanisms that drive long-term COVID.”

The complete EXPLAIN study recruits 200 long COVID patients with shortness of breath and 50 patients who have been infected with COVID-19 but are now completely asymptomatic. 50 patients who are not short of breath but have other long COVID symptoms such as “brain fog”. 50 people who have never had a long COVID that acts as a control for comparison.

Professor Nick Lemoin, Chair of NIHR’s Long COVID Funding Committee and Medical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network, said: -Reported symptoms. This early study is an important example of both the efforts of the UK research community to understand this new phenomenon and the world-leading expertise within the community. ”

Studies confirm long-term lung injury after COVID-19

Quote: Lung abnormalities found in long COVID patients (January 28, 2022) from https: // January 28, 2022 Was acquired in

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