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Abnormal EEG Findings Common With COVID-19

Frontal findings are frequent and may be a marker for COVID-19 encephalopathy


THURSDAY, Nov. 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- One-third of COVID-19 patients have abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG) findings in the frontal lobe, according to a review published online Oct. 18 in Seizure.

Arun Raj Antony, M.D., from the University of Pittsburgh, and Zulfi Haneef, M.D., from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, conducted a systematic literature review to identify studies evaluating EEG findings in COVID-19 patients.

Based on 84 studies (617 patients), the researchers found that common EEG indications were altered mental status (61.7 percent), seizure-like events (31.2 percent), and cardiac arrest (3.5 percent). Abnormal EEG findings were seen in 88.0 percent of patients and were classified into three groups: background abnormalities, including diffuse slowing (68.6 percent), focal slowing (17.0 percent), and absent posterior dominant rhythm (10.2 percent); periodic and rhythmic EEG patterns, including generalized periodic discharges (5.7 percent), lateralized/multifocal periodic discharges (3.9 percent), and generalized rhythmic activity (5.2 percent); and epileptiform changes, including focal (5.7 percent), generalized (4.4 percent), and seizures/status epilepticus (5.5 percent). One-third of findings included frontal EEG patterns. Patients undergoing continuous EEG studies had significantly more abnormalities than patients not undergoing continuous monitoring (96.8 versus 85.0 percent).

"A lot of people think they will get the illness, get well, and everything will go back to normal, but these findings tell us that there might be long-term issues, which is something we have suspected and now we are finding more evidence to back that up," Haneef said in a statement.

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