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Intracranial vessel wall imaging appears useful in COVID-19 patients.
Vasculitis seems likely as imaging demonstrated vessel wall thickening with homogeneous and concentric enhancement.
Cerebral vasculitis seems to be one of the mechanisms at the origin of brain damage related to COVID-19.
Background and purpose
Cerebral complications related to COVID-19 were recently reported, and the underlying mechanisms of brain damage remain uncertain, probably multifactorial. Among various hypotheses suggested, a possible vasculitis was issued but never confirmed. Herein, we aimed to describe brain MRIs focused on the intracranial vessel wall in a population of COVID-19 patients with neurologic manifestations.
Materials and methods
Between March 1 and May 31, 2020, 69 consecutive COVID-19 patients with neurologic manifestations underwent a brain MRI allowing the study of the intracranial vessel wall at Strasbourg University hospitals and were retrospectively included. During the same period, 25 consecutive patients, without suspicion of SARS-CoV-2 infection, underwent a brain MRI urgently, with the same imaging protocols. A vasculitis seemed likely when imaging demonstrated vessel wall thickening with homogeneous and concentric enhancement.
Among the 69 COVID-19 patients included, 11 (16%) presented arterial vessel wall thickening with homogeneous and concentric enhancement, compatible with cerebral vasculitis. These neuroimaging findings were not found among the 25 patients without SARS-CoV-2 infection, and the difference was statistically significant (p = 0.03). Middle cerebral arteries, basilar artery, and posterior cerebral arteries were the most frequent vessels involved. For nine of them, imaging demonstrated ischemic or hemorrhagic complications.
Cerebral vasculitis of medium-sized vessels seems to be one of the mechanisms at the origin of brain damage related to COVID-19.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Abbreviations : RT-PCR, VZV
Keywords : Vasculitis, COVID-19, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)