PET Imaging Can Accurately Measure Cognitive Impairment In COVID-19 Patients – COVID-19
Image: PET imaging can accurately measure cognitive impairment in COVID-19 patients (Photo courtesy of G Blazhenets et al., Department of Nuclear Medicine, Medical Center – University of Friborg, Faculty of Medicine, University of Friborg)
The effects of COVID-19 on the brain can be accurately measured with positron emission tomography (PET), according to research presented at the 2021 annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI).
In the study conducted by researchers at the University Medical Center of Freiburg (Freiburg, Germany), newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients, who had to be hospitalized and had PET brain scans, had deficits in neuronal function and cognitive impairment associated with some, this impairment continued six months after their diagnosis. The detailed description of areas of cognitive impairment, neurological symptoms and comparison of impairments over a six-month period has been selected as SNMMI’s Image of the Year 2021.
To study cognitive impairment associated with COVID-19, researchers conducted a prospective study of newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients who required hospital treatment for non-neurological conditions. Cognitive assessment was performed, followed by 18F-FDG PET imaging if at least two new neurological symptoms were present. By comparing COVID-19 patients to controls, the researchers established a covariance model of brain metabolism linked to COVID-19 with the largest decreases in cortical regions. In patients, the expression of this model showed a very strong correlation with the cognitive performances of the patients. A follow-up PET scan was performed six months after the initial diagnosis of COVID-19. Imaging results showed significant improvement in neurocognitive deficits in most patients, accompanied by almost complete normalization of brain metabolism.
âWe can clearly state that significant recovery of regional neural function and cognition occurs for most COVID-19 patients based on the results of this study. However, it is important to recognize that the evidence for longer lasting deficits in neuronal function and accompanying cognitive deficits is still measurable in some patients six months after disease onset, âsaid Ganna Blazhenets, PhD, post researcher. -doctoral in medical imaging at the University Medical Center of Friborg. âAs a result, post-COVID-19 patients with persistent cognitive impairment should be referred to a neurologist and possibly assigned to cognitive rehabilitation programs. “
Friborg University Medical Center