Mononeuritis multiplex: an unexpectedly frequent feature of severe COVID-19

J Neurol. 2021 Aug;268(8):2685-2689. doi: 10.1007/s00415-020-10321-8. Epub 2020 Nov 26.


The prolonged mechanical ventilation that is often required by patients with severe COVID-19 is expected to result in significant intensive care unit-acquired weakness (ICUAW) in many of the survivors. However, in our post-COVID-19 follow-up clinic we have found that, as well as the anticipated global weakness related to loss of muscle mass, a significant proportion of these patients also have disabling focal neurological deficits relating to multiple axonal mononeuropathies. Amongst the 69 patients with severe COVID-19 that have been discharged from the intensive care units in our hospital, we have seen 11 individuals (16%) with such a mononeuritis multiplex. In many instances, the multi-focal nature of the weakness in these patients was initially unrecognised as symptoms were wrongly assumed to relate simply to "critical illness neuromyopathy". While mononeuropathy is well recognised as an occasional complication of intensive care, our experience suggests that such deficits are surprisingly frequent and often disabling in patients recovering from severe COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; Mononeuritis multiplex; Nerve injury; Neuropathy.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Mononeuropathies*
  • Muscle Weakness / etiology
  • SARS-CoV-2