Yield of Head Imaging in Ambulatory and Hospitalized Patients With SARS-CoV-2: A Multi-Center Study of 8675 Patients

Melanie R.F. Greenway, Young Erben, Josephine F. Huang, Jason L. Siegel, Christopher J. Lamb, Mohammed K. Badi, Amra Sakusic, Neethu Gopal, James F. Meschia, Michelle P. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Purpose: To describe the neurological and cerebrovascular findings in patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and underwent head imaging in ambulatory and inpatient settings. Methods: Consecutive patients aged ≥18 years with SARS-CoV-2 infection diagnosed or treated at Mayo Clinic sites from 3/11/2020 to 7/23/2020 with head CT or brain MRI within 30 days of SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis were included. Demographics, medical history, indication for SARS-CoV-2 testing, neurologic symptoms, indication for brain imaging, neuroimaging findings, etiology of cerebrovascular events, and hospital course were abstracted from medical records. Results: Of 8,675 patients with SARS-CoV-2, 180 (2.07%) had head imaging. Mean age of the entire cohort was 42 ± 18 years, whereas mean age of those with head imaging was 62 ± 19 years. Common indications for imaging were headache (34.4%), encephalopathy (33.4%), focal neurologic symptom (16.7%), and trauma (13.9%). While 86.1% of patients who underwent head imaging had normal exams, cerebrovascular events occurred in 18 patients (0.21% of the total cohort). Of patients with cerebrovascular events, 8 (44.5%) had acute infarct; 6 (33.3%), acute intracranial hemorrhage; 5 (2.8%), subacute infarct; and 1 (0.6%) posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome. In the thirteen patients with ischemic stroke, 6 (46.2%) had cryptogenic stroke; 3 (23.1%), other defined causes; 2 (15.4%), small vessel stroke; 1 (7.7%), large vessel stroke; and 1 (7.7%) cardioembolic stroke. Conclusion: In ambulatory and hospitalized patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection, the rate of head imaging is low, with common indications of encephalopathy and headache. Cerebrovascular events occurred rarely, and cryptogenic stroke was the most common stroke mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-228
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • intracranial hemorrhages
  • neuroimaging
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Yield of Head Imaging in Ambulatory and Hospitalized Patients With SARS-CoV-2: A Multi-Center Study of 8675 Patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this