Post-Vaccination/Post-COVID Immune-Mediated Demyelination of the Brain and Spinal Cord: A Novel Neuroimaging Finding

Neurol India. 2023 Jan-Feb;71(1):86-91. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.370449.


Introduction: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which not only produces respiratory symptoms but is known to involve almost every system, and its neuroinvasive properties have been well demonstrated throughout the pandemic. Also, to combat the pandemic, there was rapid development and induction of various vaccination drives, following which many adverse events following immunization (AEFIs) have been reported, which include neurological complications as well.

Method: We present a series of three cases, post vaccination, with and without a history of COVID illness that showed remarkably similar findings on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Result: A 38-year-old male presented with complaints of weakness of the bilateral lower limbs with sensory loss and bladder disturbance a day after receiving his first dose of ChadOx1 nCoV-19 (COVISHIELD) vaccine. A 50-year-old male with hypothyroidism characterized by autoimmune thyroiditis and impaired glucose tolerance experienced difficulty in walking 11.5 weeks after being administered with COVID vaccine (COVAXIN). A 38-year-old male presented with subacute onset progressive symmetric quadriparesis 2 months after their first dose of a COVID vaccine. The patient also had sensory ataxia, and his vibration sensation was impaired below C7. All three patients had typical pattern of involvement of the brain and spine on MRI with signal changes in bilateral corticospinal tracts, trigeminal tracts in the brain, and both lateral and posterior columns in the spine.

Conclusion: This pattern of brain and spine involvement on MRI is a novel finding and is likely a result of post-vaccination/post-COVID immune-mediated demyelination.

Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 vaccination; Leukoencephalopathy with brainstem and spinal cord involvement and lactate elevation (LBSL); demyelination; motor neuron disease (MND); neurotropism; sub-acute combined degeneration (SACD).

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain* / pathology
  • COVID-19 Vaccines* / adverse effects
  • COVID-19* / complications
  • COVID-19* / immunology
  • ChAdOx1 nCoV-19
  • Demyelinating Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroimaging
  • Pyramidal Tracts
  • Spinal Cord / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Vaccination / adverse effects


  • BBV152 COVID-19 vaccine
  • ChAdOx1 nCoV-19
  • COVID-19 Vaccines