Investigating lung damage in people with long COVID

July 19, 2021

DART Principal Investigator, Prof Fergus Gleeson, is also leading a clinical trial using hyperpolarised Xenon MRI to identify lung damage in people with long COVID, where this damage does not show up on conventional CT scans.  This is one of 15 studies being funded by the National Institute for Health Research

Prof Gleeson’s EXPLAIN (HypErpolarised Xenon Magnetic Resonance PuLmonary Imaging in PAtIeNts with Long-COVID) project will seek to diagnose ongoing breathlessness in coronavirus patients who were not admitted to hospital.  The study uses MRI scans to trace inhaled xenon gas moving into and out of the lungs to assess disease severity and whether breathlessness improves over time.

Speaking to NIHR, Prof Gleeson said: “Following on from our earlier work using hyperpolarised xenon MRI in patients following hospitalisation with COVID-19 pneumonia, where we showed that their lungs may be damaged even when all other tests were normal, it is critical to determine how many patients with long COVID and breathlessness have damaged lungs, and if and how long it takes for their lungs to recover.

“Hyperpolarised xenon MRI takes a few minutes and does not require radiation exposure, so it may be repeated over time to see lung changes. Using this technique, we can see if there has been damage to the airways in the lungs, or to the areas where oxygen crosses into the bloodstream, which appears to be the area damaged by COVID-19.”

Read the full NIHR article here and The Guardian’s report here.

Download Prof Gleeson’s presentation about EXPLAIN here

Other links


BBC News

PA via Oxford Mail

PA and ITV News