Coronavirus disease 2019 patients hospitalized in intensive care units develop neuromuscular manifestations. However, to our knowledge, a study describing the neurophysiological findings in these patients has not been reported. The objective of this study was to diagnose the cause of neuromuscular deficit in severe coronavirus disease 2019 patients, through neurophysiological examination.
This is a retrospective, observational case series. Data were collected from April 13, 2020, to May 31, 2020. Twenty-two coronavirus disease 2019 patients with generalized neuromuscular deficit during intensive care unit hospitalization were studied. Neurophysiological examinations included motor and sensory peripheral nerve conductions, needle electromyography, F waves, and repetitive nerve stimulation.
The subjects were 14 men (63.6%) and eight women, ranged from 35 to 74 years old (58.0, interquartile ranges 50.7–66.2). Intensive care unit hospitalization time ranged from 14 to 82 days (median 37.5, interquartile ranges 22.7–55.0). Through neurophysiological examination, myopathy was diagnosed in 17 patients (77.3%) and polyneuropathy in four (18.2%). Focal neuropathies were diagnosed in 12 patients (54.6%), with a total of 19 affected nerves. Common peroneal nerve lesions at the fibular head (68.4%) and ulnar nerve lesions at the elbow level (21.1%) were the most frequent locations. No significant differences were established between neurophysiological findings and clinical or analytical data.
In critical coronavirus disease 2019 patients with neuromuscular complaints, neurophysiological examination provides an accurate diagnosis—useful to select treatment measures and establish the prognosis of recovery. Neurophysiological findings are similar to those described for critical illness neuromuscular disease, with myopathy being the most frequent diagnosis.