Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic started as an outbreak in China and soon crossed borders to affect the populations in all countries of the world. During the initial course of the disease, COVID-19 was perceived as a pneumonia-like illness. However, recent findings of COVID-19 patients suggest that the virus has the potential to disseminate to different tissues and organs, and cause significant complications.
Neurological symptoms are of great significance as these usually present in and complicate critical cases. Many case reports and case series have documented the findings of neurological complications in COVID-19 patients. From the existing data, the most frequent symptoms in these patients were broadly classified into the central nervous system (CNS), peripheral nervous system, and skeletal muscular symptoms. CNS symptoms include meningitis, encephalitis, cerebrovascular complications, peripheral nervous system symptoms include anosmia, ageusia, and skeletal muscular symptoms include myalgias. It is postulated that the cause may be direct CNS injury through blood and neuronal pathways or indirectly because of an immune-mediated response, hypoxia caused by decreased oxygen saturation, or by the binding of subacute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 to the host angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 receptors. Striking radiologic findings in COVID-19 patients with neurological symptoms have also emerged.
As subacute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 may potentially have lethal implications on the nervous system, it is important that neurologists are better informed about the spectrum of clinical manifestations, radiologic findings, and likely mechanisms of injury. Understanding the symptoms and radiologic imaging allows clinicians to consider brain imaging in any patient with suspected COVID-19 and neurological symptoms.