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Gastrointestinal ramifications of COVID-19 highlighted in new study

November 11, 2020
A new study has highlighted the prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in people with COVID-19 and what signs abs radiologists should consider.

In a new study, researchers have synthesized evidence from 36 scientific articles to highlight the prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in people with COVID-19.

The study, appearing in the journal Abdominal Radiology, also identifies a number of the signs belly radiologists should consider when imaging people.

COVID-19 unknowns
One of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the actual fact that SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus. While sharing some similarities with the previous severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), SARS-CoV-2 also offers many differences.

As time progresses, scientists can conduct research on the virus to find many of these unknowns and for that reason help inform effective policy decisions and clinical practices. This has been the case with the symptoms of COVID-19.

While scientists have already been aware of the most frequent symptoms - fever, coughing, lack of smell or taste, and shortness of breath - for quite a while, they have only recently determined other less common but significant symptoms.

As Dr. Mitch Wilson, a radiologist and clinical lecturer at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and co-author of the study points out, “[t]here’s an evergrowing amount of literature showing that stomach symptomatology is a common presentation for COVID-19.”

The study
In today's article, a team of researchers focused on the growing evidence of men and women presenting with gastrointestinal issues associated with COVID-19.

To get this done, the researchers conducted a report to highlight trends, issues, or areas that want more research.

The team searched through popular scientific databases using variations of the keywords “COVID-19,” “gastrointestinal,” and “imaging.” This resulted in 614 potentially relevant articles. The team identified a further 21 articles from other sources.

The researchers then removed duplicate articles and commenced screening the articles’ abstracts and titles for relevance, identifying 137 articles.

The researchers then conducted a full-text screening, limiting the studies to those that included findings linked to abdominal imaging in people who had received a diagnosis of COVID-19.

The team included 36 articles in their study.

Gastrointestinal COVID-19 signs
After synthesizing the evidence from these 36 studies, the researchers discovered two key findings.

First, gastrointestinal symptoms certainly are a significant facet of COVID-19 and may be present in the lack of other more well-known symptoms.

The researchers highlighted a meta-analysis covering a lot more than 4,200 persons that found 17.6% had gastrointestinal symptoms. In another study of 1 1,141 people, 16% offered only gastrointestinal symptoms.

Second, the researchers determined a number of signs that an abs radiologist should look out for when imaging persons - particularly because doctors have reported the incidental identification of COVID-19 in a substantial proportion of individuals with gastrointestinal symptoms.

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