SARS-CoV-2 infection has been shown to damage multiple organs, including the brain. Multiorgan MRI can provide further insight on the repercussions of COVID-19 on organ health but requires a balance between richness and quality of data acquisition and total scan duration. We adapted the UK Biobank brain MRI protocol to produce high-quality images while being suitable as part of a post-COVID-19 multiorgan MRI exam. The analysis pipeline, also adapted from UK Biobank, includes new imaging-derived phenotypes (IDPs) designed to assess the possible effects of COVID-19. A first application of the protocol and pipeline was performed in 51 COVID-19 patients post-hospital discharge and 25 controls participating in the Oxford C-MORE study. The protocol acquires high resolution T1, T2-FLAIR, diffusion weighted images, susceptibility weighted images, and arterial spin labelling data in 17 min. The automated imaging pipeline derives 1,575 IDPs, assessing brain anatomy (including olfactory bulb volume and intensity) and tissue perfusion, hyperintensities, diffusivity, and susceptibility. In the C-MORE data, IDPs related to atrophy, small vessel disease and olfactory bulbs were consistent with clinical radiology reports. Our exploratory analysis tentatively revealed some group differences between recovered COVID-19 patients and controls, across severity groups, but not across anosmia groups. Follow-up imaging in the C-MORE study is currently ongoing, and this protocol is now being used in other large-scale studies. The protocol, pipeline code and data are openly available and will further contribute to the understanding of the medium to long-term effects of COVID-19.
COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, UK Biobank (UKB), brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), multi-organ MRI