J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Nov 5. doi: 10.1111/jgh.15323. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND AND AIM: A worldwide outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has drawn global attention. Several reports have described the gastrointestinal (GI) manifestations in the infected patients. The systematic review was designed to highlight the gaps in our knowledge about the prevalence and clinical significance of GI symptoms in patients with COVID-19.
METHODS: We searched PubMed database and Google articles published in both English and Chinese up to June 3, 2020, using search terms "clinical features," "2019 novel coronavirus," "2019-nCoV," "COVID-19," or "SARS-Cov-2." Observational studies, case reports, or letters describing the clinical features or observational studies regarding the detection and/or isolation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 viruses in stools were included.
RESULTS: A total of 22 publications were finally selected. It was reported that GI symptoms occurred in about 3-40.7% of patients. GI manifestations included nausea, diarrhea, anorexia, vomiting, abdominal pain, belching, abdominal distension, and GI hemorrhage. Diarrhea was the most common GI symptom. Infected patients had various degrees of liver dysfunction, and the severity of liver dysfunction was significantly associated with the severity of the disease. Therapy focusing on digestive system like liver supportive therapy or nutrition support or probiotics has been demonstrated to be effective interventions, which greatly improve prognosis. Fecal-oral transmission route is a potential risk for transmission.
CONCLUSIONS: GI symptoms are common in COVID-19. Strengthening the recognition on abnormalities in digestive system of patients with COVID-19 is crucial for early identification and timely treatment, especially for those atypical patients. Hygiene protection and keeping the drainpipe free flowing are necessary for everyone.