Lung tissue of patients who suffered severely from COVID-19 shows good recovery in most cases. This was revealed by a study carried out by the Radboudumc that has now been published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. A striking conclusion is that the group who were referred by a GP did not recover as well as patients who were admitted to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
The study, led by pulmonologist Bram van den Borst, included 124 patients who had recovered from acute COVID-19 infections. They visited the Radboudumc corona aftercare clinic. The patients were examined by CT scan, a lung functional test and more. After three months, the researchers took stock, which revealed that the patients’ lung tissue is recovering well. Residual damage in the lung tissue was generally limited and is most often seen in patients who were treated in the ICU. The most common complaints after three months are fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pains. Many people also still experience limitations in their daily life as well as a decreased quality of life. Main researcher and pulmonologist Bram van den Borst explains: “The patterns we see in these patients show similarities with recovery after acute pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), in which fluid accumulates in the lungs. Recovery from these conditions also generally takes a long time. It is encouraging to see that lungs after COVID-19 infections exhibit this level of recovery.”
Referred patients do not recover as well as admitted patients
Patients were divided into three categories for the study: a group with patients who were admitted to the ICU, a group of patients who were admitted to a nursing ward in the hospital, and finally a group with patients who could stay home but experienced persisting symptoms that eventually warranted a referral from their GP.
The study assessed how patients fared after three months and revealed that the patients who were referred to the aftercare clinic by their GP showed the worse recovery in the following period. Of course, this latter group of patients was referred because of their persisting symptoms. “However, it does seem that there is a clear subgroup of patients who initially experienced mild COVID-19 symptoms and later kept experiencing persistent long-term complaints and limitations”, Bram van den Borst elaborates. “What is striking is that we barely found any anomalies in the lungs of these patients. Considering the variety and seriousness of the complaints and the plausible size of this subgroup, there is an urgent need for further research into explanations and treatment options.”
Aftercare clinic for patients with persisting symptoms
Radboudumc established the corona aftercare clinic at the Dekkerswald location as a reaction to an observed increase in the signals that a substantial number of COVID-19 patients was experiencing long-term complaints, ranging from coughing, fatigue and shortness of breath to anxiety and physical limitations. At the aftercare clinic, an extensive analysis is performed involving multiple disciplines. Based on this analysis, the care requirements of the patients and the subsequent steps are determined. Patients who were admitted at Radboudumc with COVID-19 will receive an invitation from the corona aftercare clinic. People who went through COVID-19 from home and are still experiencing symptoms can get a referral from their GP to visit the aftercare clinic as well.
About the publication
Publication in Clinical Infectious Disease: Comprehensive health assessment three months after recovery from acute COVID-19 – Bram van den Borst, Jeannette B. Peters, Monique Brink, Yvonne Schoon, Chantal P. Bleeker-Rovers, Henk Schers, Hieronymus W.H. van Hees, Hanneke van Helvoort, Mark van den Boogaard, Hans van der Hoeven, Monique H. Reijers, Mathias Prokop, Jan Vercoulen, Michel van den Heuvel.
Related news items
Research into treatment for bladder pain syndrome will now be reimbursed4 August 2021
Bladder pain syndrome, also called interstitial cystitis, is a chronic benign condition of the urinary bladderread more
Effects of prophylactic haloperidol on long-term quality of life in ICU Patients4 July 2019
In Anesthesiology, Paul Rood, Marieke Zegers and Mark van den Boogaard described that prophylactic haloperidol use does not affect long-term quality of life in critically ill patients at high risk for delirium.read more
TURBO grants for four medical-technical research projects8 November 2018
Four TURBO grants were awarded to new technical-medical research proposals. The grants are part of the TURBO program, a collaboration between Radboudumc and the University of Twente.read more
Report of the 12th New Frontiers symposium Better care, network care? - 2 November 20187 November 2018
No easy answers at this symposium last Friday, only challenges that can be overcome if we succeed in 5 things. First and most radically, put patients in the center of healthcare. Second, start with assessing what the local population needs and not what local professionals have to offer.read more
Gelderland and Radboudumc combine their innovative strengths New cooperation agenda between the Province of Gelderland and Radboud university medical center16 March 2018
Gelderland aims to become the leading international testing ground for medical innovations by 2030. To achieve this, the Province of Gelderland and Radboud university medical center drafted a joint cooperation agenda.read more