Frequent neurologic manifestations and encephalopathy-associated morbidity in Covid-19 patients

Eric M. Liotta, Ayush Batra, Jeffrey R. Clark, Nathan A. Shlobin, Steven C. Hoffman, Zachary S. Orban, Igor J. Koralnik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

356 Scopus citations


Objective: Covid-19 can involve multiple organs including the nervous system. We sought to characterize the neurologic manifestations, their risk factors, and associated outcomes in hospitalized patients with Covid-19. Methods: We examined neurologic manifestations in 509 consecutive patients admitted with confirmed Covid-19 within a hospital network in Chicago, Illinois. We compared the severity of Covid-19 and outcomes in patients with and without neurologic manifestations. We also identified independent predictors of any neurologic manifestations, encephalopathy, and functional outcome using binary logistic regression. Results: Neurologic manifestations were present at Covid-19 onset in 215 (42.2%), at hospitalization in 319 (62.7%), and at any time during the disease course in 419 patients (82.3%). The most frequent neurologic manifestations were myalgias (44.8%), headaches (37.7%), encephalopathy (31.8%), dizziness (29.7%), dysgeusia (15.9%), and anosmia (11.4%). Strokes, movement disorders, motor and sensory deficits, ataxia, and seizures were uncommon (0.2 to 1.4% of patients each). Severe respiratory disease requiring mechanical ventilation occurred in 134 patients (26.3%). Independent risk factors for developing any neurologic manifestation were severe Covid-19 (OR 4.02; 95% CI 2.04–8.89; P < 0.001) and younger age (OR 0.982; 95% CI 0.968–0.996; P = 0.014). Of all patients, 362 (71.1%) had a favorable functional outcome at discharge (modified Rankin Scale 0–2). However, encephalopathy was independently associated with worse functional outcome (OR 0.22; 95% CI 0.11–0.42; P < 0.001) and higher mortality within 30 days of hospitalization (35 [21.7%] vs. 11 [3.2%] patients; P < 0.001). Interpretation: Neurologic manifestations occur in most hospitalized Covid-19 patients. Encephalopathy was associated with increased morbidity and mortality, independent of respiratory disease severity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2221-2230
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of clinical and translational neurology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • General Neuroscience


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