Peripheral Neuropathy Observed in Patients With 'Long COVID'

Prolonged small-fiber neuropathy after mild infection most common scenario in small sample of referred patients with WHO-defined long COVID
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MONDAY, March 14, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Some patients with "long COVID" have incident neuropathy, according to a study published online March 1 in Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation.

Anne Louise Oaklander, M.D., Ph.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed cross-sectional and longitudinal data from patients with World Health Organization-defined long COVID without a prior neuropathy history or risks who were referred for assessment of peripheral neuropathy. Seventeen patients were tracked for 1.4 years on average.

The researchers found that 59 percent of the participants had one or more test interpretations confirming neuropathy. These included 63, 17, and 50 percent of skin biopsies, electrodiagnostic tests, and autonomic function tests, respectively. Three weeks after mild COVID-19, one patient was diagnosed with critical illness axonal neuropathy and another with multifocal demyelinating neuropathy; 10 or more received diagnoses of small-fiber neuropathy. The average longitudinal improvement was 52 percent; none of the patients reported complete resolution during the follow-up period. Sixty-five percent of patients received immunotherapies (corticosteroids and/or intravenous immunoglobulins) for treatment.

"Research from our team and others is clarifying what the different types of post-COVID neuropathy are, and how best to diagnose and treat them," Oaklander said in a statement. "Most long-COVID neuropathies described so far appear to reflect immune responses to the virus that went off course. And some patients seem to improve from standard treatments for other immune-related neuropathies."

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