Comparative features and outcomes of major neurological complications of COVID-19

Eur J Neurol. 2023 Feb;30(2):413-433. doi: 10.1111/ene.15617. Epub 2022 Dec 7.


Background and purpose: The aim of this study was to assess the neurological complications of SARS-CoV-2 infection and compare phenotypes and outcomes in infected patients with and without selected neurological manifestations.

Methods: The data source was a registry established by the European Academy of Neurology during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Neurologists collected data on patients with COVID-19 seen as in- and outpatients and in emergency rooms in 23 European and seven non-European countries. Prospective and retrospective data included patient demographics, lifestyle habits, comorbidities, main COVID-19 complications, hospital and intensive care unit admissions, diagnostic tests, and outcome. Acute/subacute selected neurological manifestations in patients with COVID-19 were analysed, comparing individuals with and without each condition for several risk factors.

Results: By July 31, 2021, 1523 patients (758 men, 756 women, and nine intersex/unknown, aged 16-101 years) were registered. Neurological manifestations were diagnosed in 1213 infected patients (79.6%). At study entry, 978 patients (64.2%) had one or more chronic general or neurological comorbidities. Predominant acute/subacute neurological manifestations were cognitive dysfunction (N = 449, 29.5%), stroke (N = 392, 25.7%), sleep-wake disturbances (N = 250, 16.4%), dysautonomia (N = 224, 14.7%), peripheral neuropathy (N = 145, 9.5%), movement disorders (N = 142, 9.3%), ataxia (N = 134, 8.8%), and seizures (N = 126, 8.3%). These manifestations tended to differ with regard to age, general and neurological comorbidities, infection severity and non-neurological manifestations, extent of association with other acute/subacute neurological manifestations, and outcome.

Conclusions: Patients with COVID-19 and neurological manifestations present with distinct phenotypes. Differences in age, general and neurological comorbidities, and infection severity characterize the various neurological manifestations of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; coronavirus; neurological complications; neurology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / complications
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Nervous System Diseases* / etiology
  • Pandemics
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Seizures / complications