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(Reuters) – In people with lasting breathlessness after COVID-19, a special type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reveals lung abnormalities that traditional imaging techniques do not detect, tamiflu black box warning a small study shows.

In 23 patients with shortness of breath lasting for months after COVID-19, including 11 who had not required hospitalization, the researchers performed hyperpolarized xenon 129MRI, or Hp-XeMRI, to look for abnormalities in gas exchange.

All participants had normal or near normal CT scans and lung function tests, but in both groups, Hp-XeMRI showed abnormalities in gas transfer, the research team reported in Radiology.

They cannot explain the abnormalities, and they do not know for sure yet whether the abnormalities are actually contributing to patients’ symptoms. But shortness of breath is among the most common symptoms reported by people with long COVID, and the researchers hope the findings in this small study will be a clue to the cause.

“Using Hp-XeMRI may enable us to further understand the cause of breathlessness in long COVID patients, and ultimately lead to better treatments to improve this often debilitating symptom,” study co-author James Grist from the University of Oxford said in a statement.

SOURCE: Radiology, online May 24, 2022.

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