A study has found COVID-19 may cause lung abnormalities and could be a factor of ‘long covid’.

In a study of 10 patients aged 19-69, Oxford University researchers used a novel scanning technique to discover lung damage that went undetected by conventional scans. The MRI scan uses a gas called xenon, which patients inhale to create images of lung damage.

Of the 10 patients, eight struggled with persistent shortness of breathe and tiredness, even three months after infection. However, conventional scans found no lung issues for any of them.

Using the new technique, which was developed by University of Sheffield researchers, the eight patients who struggled with breathlessness were found to have areas in their lungs where air was not easily flowing into their blood.

“I was expecting some form of lung damage, but not to the degree that we have seen,” said Prof Fergus Gleeson, who lead the work.

He added that this lung damage could be one of the factors behind ‘long covid’.

This test could help uncover long-term damage and thus make a huge difference in mapping out the future health and recovery of COVID-19 patients.

Gleeson plans to trial the same study among 100 people to see if more people have serious lung damage that has gone undetected.

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