A study by Oxford and Sheffield researchers backed by NCIMI using a cutting-edge has identified persistent damage to the lungs of COVID-19 patients at least three months after they were discharged from hospital, and for some patients even longer.
This damage was not detected by routine CT scans and clinical tests, and the patients would consequently normally be told their lungs are normal.
Further early research by the team has shown that patients who have not been hospitalised with COVID-19 but who are experiencing long-term breathlessness may have similar damage in their lungs, and a larger study is needed to confirm this.
In a paper published in Radiology, the world’s leading radiology journal, the researchers from Oxford and Sheffield said that hyperpolarised xenon MRI (XeMRI) scans had found abnormalities in the lungs of some COVID-19 patients more than three months – and in some cases, nine months – after leaving hospital, when other clinical measurements were normal.
The study, which is supported by University of Oxford Covid Research Funds, Innovate UK through NCIMI the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), has now begun testing patients who were not hospitalised with COVID-19 but who have been attending long COVID clinics.
OUH are in the process of upgrading their MRI scanning capabilities, thanks to support from: the medical imaging technology company Polarean Imaging, who are working towards providing a new state-of-the-art polariser; from GE, who provide the team with the Xe-MRI speciality imaging hardware; and from the UK Government’s new equipment fund for imaging capital, with which a more up-to-date magnet has been purchased.
The XeMRI research in Oxford has been co-funded through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), University of Oxford COVID Research Funds and Innovate UK, through NCIMI (the National Consortium of Intelligent Medical Imaging).
The study – C-MORE-POST in Oxford and MURCO in Sheffield – forms part of the University of Oxford’s C-MORE (Capturing the MultiORgan Effects of COVID-19) study, which feeds into the major national follow-up study PHOSP-COVID, led by the University of Leicester, which is investigating the long-term effects of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients.
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Mackenzie is a Senior Researcher with the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, and the Junior Research Fellow in the Humanities at…
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