PURPOSE: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is associated with several complications of the central nervous system (CNS), including acute encephalopathy .
METHODS: In this pilot study, we report a series of 39 patients (66.5 ± 9.2 years; 10.3% female) with acute encephalopathy, who underwent a standard brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 1.5 T during the acute symptomatic phase . In addition to diffusion-weighted imaging, MR angiography and susceptibility-weighted images, high-resolution vascular black blood sequences (in 34 cases) were used to investigate the vasculature of the brain .
RESULTS: In 29 out of 34 patients with COVID-19 encephalopathy (85 %) with high-resolution vessel wall imaging, we found a circular enhancement and thickening of the basilar and vertebral arteries, without any correlation with ischemia or microbleeds (reported in 21% and 59%, respectively).
CONCLUSION: We report a high prevalence of vascular changes suggestive of endotheliitis as reported in other organs . This could suggest an inflammatory mechanism underlying this encephalopathy.
Index: Contrast agent, Diffusion, Inflammation, MRI, SWI, Stroke