COVID-19 related neuroimaging findings: A signal of thromboembolic complications and a strong prognostic marker of poor patient outcome

J Neurol Sci. 2020 Jul 15;414:116923. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2020.116923. Epub 2020 May 19.


Objective: To investigate the incidence and spectrum of neuroimaging findings and their prognostic role in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in New York City.

Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study of 3218 COVID-19 confirmed patients admitted to a major healthcare system (three hospitals) in New York City between March 1, 2020 and April 13, 2020. Clinical data were extracted from electronic medical records, and particularly data of all neurological symptoms were extracted from the imaging reports. Four neuroradiologists evaluated all neuroimaging studies for acute neuroimaging findings related to COVID-19.

Results: 14.1% of admitted COVID-19 patients had neuroimaging and this accounted for only 5.5% of the total imaging studies. Acute stroke was the most common finding on neuro-imaging, seen in 92.5% of patients with positive neuro-imaging studies, and present in 1.1% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Patients with acute large ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke had much higher mortality risk adjusted for age, BMI and hypertension compared to those COVID-19 patients without neuroimaging. (Odds Ratio 6.02 by LR; Hazard Ratio 2.28 by CRR).

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates acute stroke is the most common neuroimaging finding among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Detection of an acute stroke is a strong prognostic marker of poor outcome. Our study also highlights the fact there is limited use of neuroimaging in these patients due to multiple logistical constraints.

Keywords: COVID-19; Neuro-imaging; Stroke.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Ischemia / epidemiology
  • Brain Ischemia / etiology
  • COVID-19
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Urban / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inpatients
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroimaging*
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Procedures and Techniques Utilization
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging*
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Tertiary Care Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult