Positron Emission Tomography Can Accurately Measure Effects of COVID-19 on the Brain
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, newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients, who required inpatient treatment and had PET brain scans, were found to have deficits in neuronal function and associated cognitive impairment, and in some, this impairment was found to be impaired. ‘is 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.
Each year, the SNMMI chooses an image that best illustrates the most promising advances in the field of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging.
The advanced technologies captured in these images demonstrate the ability to improve patient care by detecting disease, facilitating diagnosis, improving clinical confidence, and providing a means to select appropriate treatments. This year’s SNMMI Henry N. Wagner, Jr. Image of the Year was chosen from more than 1,280 abstracts submitted to the meeting and voted on by reviewers and company executives.
As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic progresses, it has become increasingly clear that long-term neurocognitive consequences occur not only in severe cases of COVID-19, but also in mild cases. and moderate. Neurocognitive deficits such as memory impairment, impaired concentration and cognitive problems can persist well beyond the acute phase of the disease. “
Ganna Blazhenets, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Medical Imaging, Freiburg University Medical Center, Freiburg, Germany
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 Friborg group established a COVID-19-related covariance model of brain metabolism 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.
“We 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, ”noted Blazhenets. “Accordingly, post-COVID-19 patients with persistent cognitive complaints should be presented to a neurologist and possibly assigned to cognitive rehabilitation programs.”
“18F-FDG PET is an established biomarker of neuronal function and neuronal damage,” said SNMMI Scientific Program Committee Chair Umar Mahmood, MD, PhD. As the Image of the Year showed, it can be applied to unravel neural correlates of cognitive decline in patients after COVID-19. Since 18F-FDG PET is widely available, it can therefore help with diagnosis and follow-up in patients with persistent cognitive impairment after COVID-19. “