Covid infections cause liver damage that lasts months after infection, new research finds.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that Covid-positive patients had “statistically significantly” higher levels of liver stiffness than the rest of the population.
Liver stiffness can indicate long-term liver damage such as inflammation or fibrosis, the accumulation of scar tissue in the liver.
Healthier liver tissue decreases over time, causing the liver to malfunction, and in severe cases, progressive fibrosis can lead to liver cancer or failure.
dr Firouzeh Heidari, a research associate at Massachusetts General Hospital, said their findings show the damage caused by Covid is long-lasting.
She said: “Our study is part of the emerging evidence that Covid-19 infection can lead to liver damage that lasts long after the acute illness.
“We do not yet know whether increased liver stiffness seen after Covid-19 infection will lead to adverse treatment outcomes.”
The researchers compared patients who had Covid to two control groups, and each received ultrasound shear wave elastography.
Covid-positive patients had a high mean liver stiffness of 7.68 kPa compared to 5.99 kPa stiffness in non-Covid patients.
The patients were divided into one of three groups based on whether they received an elastography and whether they tested positive for Covid.
The test, conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, measures how stiff the tissue is.
Covid participants received a positive PCR test at least 12 weeks before the exam.
There were 31 in the Covid group and 50 in the control group who had the screening but only tested negative on PCR tests during the pandemic.
Another 50 people who had an elastography exam before the pandemic formed the second control group.
dr Heidari said: “We are currently investigating whether the severity of acute Covid-related symptoms predicts the severity of long-term liver damage.
“We hope to enrich our existing database with additional patient data and a broader range of covariates to better understand the post-acute effects of Covid-19 in the liver.”
The team believes that the higher median stiffness in the pre-pandemic control group compared to the pandemic control group was due to changing referral patterns during the pandemic and because the pandemic control group was older.
The mean age of the Covid-positive group was 53.1 years, 55.2 years for the pandemic control group and the pre-pandemic cohort mean 58.2 years. A total of 67 were women.
In the Covid-positive group, the elastography examinations took place an average of 44 weeks after a positive PCR result.
The research results were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
https://www.independent.ie/news/covid-infections-causing-liver-damage-lasting-months-after-infection-study-finds-42194161.html Covid infections cause liver damage that lasts months after infection, study finds