Belgian researchers conducting autopsies on dozens of Covid-19 patients have found that at least two did not die of the virus, in findings which shed new light into the understanding of the disease on the body.
Since April, teams from the University of Hasselt (UHasselt) and the local Jessa hospital have been asking families’ permission to conduct post-mortems on patients recorded as having died from Covid-19.
The first round of results of the minimally invasive autopsies (MIA) on 18 bodies led researchers to reject initial assessments attributing the deaths of two patients’ listed as having died from “severe Covid-19 pneumonia.”
The MIAs the teams employ consist of a CT scan followed by an examination of various organ tissues obtained through biopsies.
Lead researcher, Prof. Dr. Janneke Cox., said that the study, and in particular the post-mortem analysis of organ tissue, could enrich medical understanding of Covid-19 and contribute to research on treatment.
On the first round of their study, researchers said that 83% of their autopsies yielded new clinical information which had not been detected while a patient was alive, shedding new light on patients’ condition at the time they contracted the virus.
The new clinical findings listed included a heart condition in four patients or bacterial pneumonia in another. In 28% of cases, the results led to changes to the cause of death put on record, TVL news reports.
For each patient, the team of researchers pored over patients’ clinical files and results of their radiology, microbiology and histology, or tissue, analysis and found that, in 56% of cases, the latter provided the most significant clinical information.
“These figures show that it makes sense to perform MIAs on Covid-19 patients,” Dr. Cox said. “Even in the high-tech setting of our country, where we have extensive diagnostic resources, MIAs can provide important clinical insights on the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The study is still ongoing and has obtained permission to perform MIAs on 34 patients overall.