A Look at Expert MRI’s Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome Protocols
Approximately one year after the first COVID-19 case was discovered in Los Angeles, January of 2021 has reportedly been the deadliest month of the pandemic, with an estimated 80,000 fatalities thus far. With over 25 million total cases reported in the U.S. and over one million cases in L.A. County alone, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our daily lives. Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that the increasing impact of “long-term” COVID-19 symptoms “could be an issue.”
“This is a real phenomenon. I myself am personally dealing and helping a number of people who have a post-acute COVID-19 syndrome,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview on MSNBC Friday. “They are virologically okay — the virus is no longer identified in them — but they have persistence of symptoms that can be debilitating.” Fauci said.
“We take it very seriously for the simple reason that even if a small fraction, and it appears to be more than just a small fraction, of people have persistent symptoms, when you look at the 24-25 million people in the United States who have been infected … and globally when you have approaching 100 million people having been infected, this could be something that really could be an issue,” Fauci added.
As California’s leader in medical diagnostics imaging, Expert MRI continues to adapt throughout the pandemic by offering patients the latest in post-acute COVID-19 testing protocols. Our post-COVID protocols can help in identifying, diagnosing, and treating long-term symptoms of the coronavirus. Let’s examine what testing protocols Expert MRI offers, what those tests entail, and what symptoms the protocols are able to address.
What Post-COVID Testing Services Does Expert MRI Offer?
Expert MRI now offers both post-COVID CT chest scans and post-COVID MRI brain scans for patients impacted by long-term effects of the coronavirus. Below we’ll take a more in-depth look at what the protocols entail and review some of the common long-term symptoms affecting patients that may warrant a testing order from your doctor.
What Are Some of the Commonly Reported Long-Term Symptoms of COVID-19?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the following long-term symptoms as most commonly reported by post-acute COVID-19 patients:
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
Other reported long-term symptoms include:
- Difficulty with thinking and concentration (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
- Muscle pain
- Intermittent fever
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
How COVID-19 impacts patients in the short and long-term is something medical experts are only beginning to understand. As the virus continues to mutate, COVID-19 “long hauler” patients have reported additional symptoms (one article identified 98 unique symptoms), including:
- Elevated thyroid
- Syncope (suddenly fainting or passing out, usually due to a temporary drop in blood flow to the brain)
- Hormone imbalances
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
With the number of potential complications that can manifest from COVID-19 continuing to expand, some people are left questioning whether or not they might have had the virus at some point. Moreover, patients are understandably concerned with how to best manage long-term COVID-19 symptoms.
If you’re experiencing long-term symptoms from COVID-19 such as shortness of breath, fast-beating heart, chest pain, or cough, a CT chest scan may be advisable. For patients experiencing long-term symptoms such as brain fog, trouble concentrating, depression, headache, and fatigue, a MRI brain scan may be advisable.
Benefits of Post-COVID CT Chest Scans for Patients:
Expert MRI’s post-COVID CT chest scans can be effective in diagnosing potential complications from the virus and assisting your physician in management and treatment options. These post-COVID CT scans are not used to diagnose COVID-19, which should be done at a testing center. Rather, they are used to identify lasting organ damage that often persists long after the patient recovers from the acute phase of the virus.
At Expert MRI, we require patients to be at least 14 days from the resolution of symptoms, and to have tested negative for the virus. We do this to keep our imaging centers protected from COVID contamination and safe for our patients and staff.
As Dr. Sana Khan notes in the following video, COVID-19 commonly results in long-term damage to the lungs. Assessing the extent of that damage can be achieved through an Expert MRI post-COVID CT chest scan.
“After the patient has recovered, we can actually see the full extent of the damage caused by the virus (through a CT scan), including fibrosis, which is an outcome of the inflammation battle that destroys the cells and tissues. We can capture that on CT.”
Regarding the long-term symptoms of COVID-19, Dr. Khan notes that, “It’s not uncommon for patients to have symptoms of shortness of breath, fatigue, etc., even after recovering from the coronavirus itself.”
For patients who contracted the coronavirus and have since recovered, a quick and easy Expert MRI post-COVID-19 CT chest scan can help in identifying lasting lung damage by:
- Determining the cause of decreased lung function
- Evaluating the extent of diffuse alveolar damage
- Detecting the presence of pulmonary fibrosis (scarring in the lungs)
- Detecting lung cancer or other pulmonary disease
Additionally, the type of pneumonia associated with COVID-19 can cause long-standing damage to the lungs and lead to long-term breathing problems, including shortness of breath. A CT scan of the chest can identify such damage to the lungs and help guide treatment.
According to the American Lung Association, CT is superior to a standard chest X-ray, and can distinguish between pulmonary fibrosis and other lung conditions, such as infection, embolism, pneumothorax, and heart failure, as well as conditions with similar symptoms to pulmonary fibrosis. It can also be used to monitor the progression of disease over time. Low-dose CT lung screening has been used for the past several years to evaluate current and former smokers for lung disease. The testing protocol is now covered by most insurance and Medicare.
Much is still unknown about how COVID-19 will affect people over time. However, researchers recommend that doctors closely monitor patients who have had COVID-19 to assess how their organs are functioning after recovery.
Expert MRI now offers chest CT scans for post-initial COVID-19 positive patients at our Downtown LA, Fullerton, Torrance, Sun Valley, and Sherman Oaks locations. A post-COVID CT lung screening appointment can be scheduled online or by calling 877-MRI-8888. For updates and to stay informed on all Expert MRI announcements, sign up for our monthly newsletter here.
Benefits of Post-COVID MRI Brain Scans for Patients:
Expert MRI now offers post-COVID MRI brain scans that can be effective in diagnosing and ultimately treating potential complications from the virus.
For patients who contracted the coronavirus and have since recovered, a post-COVID-19 MRI Brain scan can help in identifying multiple related conditions:
- Even in young people, COVID-19 can cause strokes, which are diagnosed and evaluated with MRI.
- COVID-19 may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. MRI brain scans can help in diagnosing these conditions in the early stages.
As Dr. Sana Khan notes in the following video, COVID-19 can result in long-term damage to the body’s blood vessels, which can impact the brain. Assessing the extent of that damage can be achieved through an Expert MRI post-COVID MRI brain scan.
“When it comes to the brain, COVID-19 doesn’t typically affect the brain cells, but it does impact the vessels (vasculature),” says Dr. Khan. And, as Dr., Khan asserts, that damage to the vasculature can affect patients with other underlying conditions such as diabetes.
“When the virus attacks the blood vessels, it can sometimes eliminate the blood flow to that organ. That’s why diabetes is a risk factor for COVID-19 that increases the chances of much more serious consequences of the disease (because of the way the virus attacks the blood vessels).”
Maintaining Optimal Health After a COVID-19 Diagnosis
Expert MRI continues to utilize state-of-the-art technology to advance injury diagnostics, including testing protocols for patients experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19. It is important to remember that most people who have COVID-19 recover quickly. However, the potential for long-lasting complications resulting from COVID-19 increases the importance of reducing the spread of the virus by taking precautions, such as wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and keeping hands clean.
Our dedicated, experienced, and knowledgeable medical professionals are here to answer any questions you may have regarding our post-COVID testing protocols. To learn more about how a chest CT or MRI brain scan may help in your individual recovery process, call 877-MRI-8888 today.