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Cureus ; 13(4): e14236, 2021 Apr 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1200346


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a novel coronavirus, has proven neurotropism and causes a multitude of neurologic manifestations. Acute hemorrhagic necrotizing encephalitis (AHNE), though rare, can be seen in patients with severe infection and is associated with devastating neurologic outcomes. The true prevalence of this syndrome is unknown due to underrecognition, difficulty in timely acquisition of neuroimaging, and high mortality in this subset of patients escaping detection. It is a distinct clinicoradiological syndrome, with patients suffering from rapidly worsening encephalopathy and coma within the first two weeks of severe illness and hemorrhagic necrotizing parenchymal changes on neuroimaging. The pathophysiology of this syndrome is unclear but hypothesized to occur due to cytokine storm, blood-brain-barrier dysfunction, and direct viral-mediated endotheliopathy. Diagnosis requires a high index of suspicion in patients who have unexplained persistent severe encephalopathy associated with COVID-19 infection. Most patients have elevated systemic inflammatory markers and severe lung disease with hypoxic respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation. MRI is the imaging modality of choice, with a distinct neuroimaging pattern. CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) studies have a low yield for viral particle detection with currently available testing. While long-term outcomes are unclear, early immunomodulatory treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin, plasma exchange, and steroids may portend a favorable outcome. We discuss two cases of COVID-19 related AHNE and also include a pertinent literature search of similar cases in PubMed to consolidate the AHNE clinical syndrome, neuroimaging characteristics, management strategies, and reported short-term prognosis.

Neurohospitalist ; 11(2): 131-136, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-788576


Introduction: SARS-Coronavirus-2 infection leading to COVID-19 disease presents most often with respiratory failure. The systemic inflammatory response of SARS-CoV-2 along with the hypercoagulable state that the infection elicits can lead to acute thrombotic complications including ischemic stroke. We present 3 cases of patients with COVID-19 disease who presented with varying degrees of vascular thrombosis. Cases: Cases 1 and 2 presented as cerebral ischemic strokes without respiratory failure. Given their exposure risks, they were both tested for COVID-19 disease. Case 2 ultimately developed respiratory failure and pulmonary embolism. Cases 2 and 3 were found to have simultaneous arterial and venous thromboembolism (ischemic stroke and pulmonary embolism) as well as positive antiphospholipid antibodies. Conclusion: Our case series highlight the presence of hypercoagulability as an important mechanism in patients with COVID-19 disease with and without respiratory failure. Despite arterial and venous thromboembolic events, antiphospholipid and hypercoagulable panels in the acute phase can be difficult to interpret in the context of acute phase response and utilization of thrombolytics. SARS-CoV-2 testing in patients presenting with stroke symptoms may be useful in communities with a high case burden or patients with a history of exposure.

Neurocrit Care ; 34(1): 139-143, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-382157


BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) emerged as a global pandemic. Historically, the group of human coronaviruses can also affect the central nervous system leading to neurological symptoms; however, the causative mechanisms of the neurological manifestations of COVID-19 disease are not well known. Seizures have not been directly reported as a part of COVID-19 outside of patients with previously known brain injury or epilepsy. We report two cases of acute symptomatic seizures, in non-epileptic patients, associated with severe COVID-19 disease. CASE PRESENTATIONS: Two advanced-age, non-epileptic, male patients presented to our northeast Ohio-based health system with concern for infection in Mid-March 2020. Both had a history of lung disease and during their hospitalization tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. They developed acute encephalopathy days into their hospitalization with clinical and electrographic seizures. Resolution of seizures was achieved with levetiracetam. DISCUSSION: Patients with COVID-19 disease are at an elevated risk for seizures, and the mechanism of these seizures is likely multifactorial. Clinical (motor) seizures may not be readily detected in this population due to the expansive utilization of sedatives and paralytics for respiratory optimization strategies. Many of these patients are also not electrographically monitored for seizures due to limited resources, multifactorial risk for acute encephalopathy, and the risk of cross-contamination. Previously, several neurological symptoms were seen in patients with more advanced COVID-19 disease, and these were thought to be secondary to multi-system organ failure and/or disseminated intravascular coagulopathy-related brain injury. However, these patients may also have an advanced breakdown of the blood-brain barrier precipitated by pro-inflammatory cytokine reactions. The neurotropic effect and neuroinvasiveness of SARS-Coronavirus-2 have not been directly established. CONCLUSIONS: Acute symptomatic seizures are possible in patients with COVID-19 disease. These seizures are likely multifactorial in origin, including cortical irritation due to blood-brain barrier breakdown, precipitated by the cytokine reaction as a part of the viral infection. Patients with clinical signs of seizures or otherwise unexplained encephalopathy may benefit from electroencephalography monitoring and/or empiric anti-epileptic therapy. Further studies are needed to elucidate the risk of seizures and benefit of monitoring in this population.

COVID-19/physiopathology , Respiratory Insufficiency/physiopathology , Seizures/physiopathology , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Anticonvulsants/therapeutic use , COVID-19/complications , Critical Illness , Electroencephalography , Epidural Abscess/complications , Humans , Laminectomy , Levetiracetam/therapeutic use , Lumbar Vertebrae , Male , Radiculopathy/surgery , Respiration, Artificial , Respiratory Insufficiency/etiology , Respiratory Insufficiency/therapy , SARS-CoV-2 , Sacrum , Seizures/drug therapy , Seizures/etiology , Surgical Wound Infection/complications