Brain Scan Shows A Whole Spectrum Of COVID-19 Abnormalities We Can’t Fully Explain

by : Hannah Smith on : 29 Oct 2020 14:17
Alina Grubnyak/Unsplash

Since the pandemic began, doctors and scientists have been baffled by the sheer range of different symptoms displayed by COVID-19 patients.

The initial warning signs for the disease were believed to be similar to that of the flu – fever, cough, fatigue, you know the drill. But it soon became clear that a number of other, more unusual symptoms were being reported, most notably a loss of taste and smell, which worryingly indicated that the virus was having an impact on the brain.


Doctors have now warned that COVID-19 can cause serious neurological complications. These problems can range from mild reports of dizziness, confusion and difficulty concentrating, to life-threatening events such as strokes, seizures and brain swelling.

As scientists continue to work to get a better understanding of the virus, most are still struggling to explain why COVID-19 seems to be having such a mysterious impact on the brain.

Hannah Smith

In an effort to document the vast range of issues caused by COVID-19, two researchers have started recording data collected from brain scans of patients.


Using data from 620 patients collected by 84 different studies, the study confirms that a whole spectrum of neurological conditions have been found in patients hospitalised with the virus.

According to Science Alert, the most common neurological symptom found in patients sent for scans was an ‘altered mental state’, referring to a state of confusion, dizziness or even in some cases delirium. This was the case for roughly two-thirds of patients sent for scans, while just under a third of the recorded brain scans were ordered after the patient suffered a seizure.

The study couldn’t offer any concrete explanation for why COVID-19 affects brain activity, but some scientists believe the abnormalities could be the result of widespread inflammation, or reduced blood flow to the brain.

PA Images

The study only looked at patients who had been specifically sent for EEG scans, so it’s important to note that it does not give any indication of how common these conditions are in all COVID patients. But researchers hope that in time, brain scans could be used to help confirm COVID diagnoses, as well as to monitor the long-term impact of the virus on patients.

Neurologist and study co-author Zulfi Haneef said:

More research is needed, but these findings show us these are areas to focus on as we move forward. A lot of people think they will get the illness, get well, and everything will go back to normal.

But these findings tell us that there might be long-term issues, which is something we have suspected and now we are finding more evidence to back that up.

As we wait for news on a potential vaccine, these sorts of studies could be vital in helping doctors fight the virus going forward.


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Topics: Science, brain, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Medical, Now, Technology


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  1. Science Alert

    Brain Scans Show A Whole Spectrum Of Abnormalities in COVID Patients We Can't Fully Explain