Spinal cord involvement in COVID-19: A review

Link to article at PubMed

J Spinal Cord Med. 2021 Mar 11:1-15. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2021.1888022. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

CONTEXT: Recent literature points towards myelitis, like encephalitis, as a common central nervous system complication of COVID-19. This review elaborates on disorders of the spinal cord caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

OBJECTIVES: To review the published data about SARS-CoV-2-associated spinal cord disorders and assess their clinical, neuroimaging, treatment, and prognostic aspects.

METHODS: The PubMed and Google Scholar databases were searched for published cases using the search items "COVID-19 OR SARS-CoV-2 AND myelitis", "COVID-19 OR SARS-CoV-2 AND myelopathy", and "COVID-19 OR SARS-CoV-2 AND spinal cord".

RESULTS: Thirty-three isolated cases were included in the present review, of which 14 were aged 60 years and above (range: 3-70 years). Eighteen patients had lung abnormalities on chest imaging. Eight patients had developed either an areflexic paraparesis or quadriparesis. In 17 patients, neuroimaging demonstrated longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis, while 3 cases showed neuroimaging changes in the spinal cord as a part of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis syndrome. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examinations revealed inflammatory changes in 18 patients. However, the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the CSF was discovered in 2 patients. In 2 patients, anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were demonstrated in the CSF. Following treatment, 13 patients were able to walk.

CONCLUSIONS: A variety of COVID-19-related spinal cord manifestations, such as acute transverse myelitis, acute necrotizing myelitis, SARS-CoV-2 myelitis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, hypoxic myelopathy, MOG antibody-associated myelitis, spinal cord infarction, and spinal epidural abscess, have been reported. The possible mechanisms of this involvement being direct invasion, cytokine storm, coagulopathy, and an autoimmune response. However, response to treatment has been generally unsatisfactory, with many patients having residual weakness necessitating long-term rehabilitation.

PMID:33705268 | DOI:10.1080/10790268.2021.1888022

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