Clinical Implications of COVID-19 Presence in CSF: Systematic Review of Case Reports
Malki, Mohammed Imad
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This systematic review focused on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) patients that had detected SARS-CoV-2 virus in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). A systematic literature search was carried out in PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, Medrxiv, and Biorxiv databases from inception to 19 December 2021. Case reports or case series involving patients with proved SARS-CoV-2 presence in CSF by polymerize chain reaction were included. Our search strategy produced 23 articles documenting a total of 23 patients with positive SARS-CoV-2 in the CSF. Fever (55%) was the most common symptom, followed by headaches (41%), cough (32%), and vomiting/nausea (32%). The majority of the cases included was encephalitis (57%), 8 of which were confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging. The second most prevalent presentation was meningitis. The cerebral spinal fluid analysis found disparities in protein levels and normal glucose levels in most cases. This study demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 can enter the nervous system via various routes and cause CNS infection symptoms. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to infect the CNS even when no respiratory symptoms are present and nasopharyngeal swabs are negative. As a result, SARS-CoV-2 should be considered as a possible cause of CNS infection and tested for in the CSF.