Epidemiology, clinical profile, management, and outcome of COVID-19-associated rhino-orbital-cerebral mucormycosis in 2826 patients in India - Collaborative OPAI-IJO Study on Mucormycosis in COVID-19 (COSMIC), Report 1

Indian J Ophthalmol. 2021 Jul;69(7):1670-1692. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_1565_21.


Purpose: COVID-19-associated rhino-orbital-cerebral mucormycosis (ROCM) has reached epidemic proportion during India's second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, with several risk factors being implicated in its pathogenesis. This study aimed to determine the patient demographics, risk factors including comorbidities, and medications used to treat COVID-19, presenting symptoms and signs, and the outcome of management.

Methods: This was a retrospective, observational study of patients with COVID-19-associated ROCM managed or co-managed by ophthalmologists in India from January 1, 2020 to May 26, 2021.

Results: Of the 2826 patients, the states of Gujarat (22%) and Maharashtra (21%) reported the highest number of ROCM. The mean age of patients was 51.9 years with a male preponderance (71%). While 57% of the patients needed oxygen support for COVID-19 infection, 87% of the patients were treated with corticosteroids, (21% for > 10 days). Diabetes mellitus (DM) was present in 78% of all patients. Most of the cases showed onset of symptoms of ROCM between day 10 and day 15 from the diagnosis of COVID-19, 56% developed within 14 days after COVID-19 diagnosis, while 44% had delayed onset beyond 14 days. Orbit was involved in 72% of patients, with stage 3c forming the bulk (27%). Overall treatment included intravenous amphotericin B in 73%, functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS)/paranasal sinus (PNS) debridement in 56%, orbital exenteration in 15%, and both FESS/PNS debridement and orbital exenteration in 17%. Intraorbital injection of amphotericin B was administered in 22%. At final follow-up, mortality was 14%. Disease stage >3b had poorer prognosis. Paranasal sinus debridement and orbital exenteration reduced the mortality rate from 52% to 39% in patients with stage 4 disease with intracranial extension (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: : Corticosteroids and DM are the most important predisposing factors in the development of COVID-19-associated ROCM. COVID-19 patients must be followed up beyond recovery. Awareness of red flag symptoms and signs, high index of clinical suspicion, prompt diagnosis, and early initiation of treatment with amphotericin B, aggressive surgical debridement of the PNS, and orbital exenteration, where indicated, are essential for successful outcome.

Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19-associated ROCM; Corticosteroids; diabetes mellitus; mucormycosis; orbital exenteration; paransal sinus debridement; rhino-orbital-cerebral mucormycosis; staging of rhino-orbital-cerebral mucormycosis.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • COVID-19*
  • Eye Infections, Fungal* / diagnosis
  • Eye Infections, Fungal* / epidemiology
  • Eye Infections, Fungal* / therapy
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucormycosis* / diagnosis
  • Mucormycosis* / epidemiology
  • Mucormycosis* / therapy
  • Orbital Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Orbital Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Orbital Diseases* / therapy
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antifungal Agents