Patients who have experienced long-term symptoms of COVID-19, including the loss or distortion of the sense of smell, may find hope in a new, minimally invasive procedure. Researchers presenting at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) have discovered that an image-guided technique could potentially restore the olfactory senses in those affected by parosmia, a condition that alters the perception of smells.
Parosmia, a known symptom of COVID-19, affects up to 60% of coronavirus patients. While many individuals eventually regain their sense of smell, some individuals with long COVID experience persisting symptoms for several months or even years, negatively affecting their quality of life and appetite.
The procedure in question involves the use of computed tomography (CT) guidance to perform a stellate ganglion block. Stellate ganglia are a cluster of nerves located in the neck that play a role in regulating involuntary processes in the body. By injecting anesthetic directly into the stellate ganglion, researchers can stimulate the autonomic nervous system to potentially alleviate the symptoms of parosmia.
During the study, 54 patients with long-term post-COVID parosmia were referred to the researchers. These individuals had previously tried multiple pharmaceutical and topical treatments without success. The results were promising, with patients reporting significant improvement in their symptoms after the procedure.
Follow-up data was collected for 37 patients, and at one week post-injection, 59% reported improved symptoms. Furthermore, at three months, there was an average improvement of 49% in symptom severity among the 22 patients for whom data was available.
The innovative procedure offers a glimmer of hope for those struggling with persistent parosmia after COVID-19. While further research and trials are needed to validate these findings, the initial outcomes are encouraging, demonstrating the potential for this minimally invasive approach to restore the sense of smell in affected individuals.
What is parosmia?
Parosmia is a condition where the sense of smell is distorted, causing smells to be perceived differently or incorrectly.
What causes parosmia?
Parosmia can be caused by various factors, including viral infections such as COVID-19, brain trauma, stroke, or certain tumors.
How common is parosmia in COVID-19 patients?
Up to 60% of individuals who have had COVID-19 may experience parosmia as a symptom.
What is a stellate ganglion block?
A stellate ganglion block is a procedure in which anesthetic is injected into the stellate ganglion, a cluster of nerves located in the neck. It can be used to treat various conditions by stimulating the autonomic nervous system.
Are there any side effects or complications associated with this procedure?
According to the study, no complications or adverse events were reported among the patients who received the stellate ganglion block. However, it is essential to consult with medical professionals to fully understand the risks and benefits of any medical procedure.