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COVID-19 could cause long-term lung damage, research finds

Research conducted at Oxford University suggests that COVID-19 may be causing lung-damage in patients that can be detected over three months after the initial infection.

The study included ten COVID-19 patients aged between 19 and 69 and used a new scanning technique, dubbed the Xenon technique, to identify lung damage not usually detected on other scans.

This scanning technique uses a gas called Xenon, which patients inhale during MRI scans to show any potential lung damage caused by COVID-19.

Within this study, eight patients had persistent shortness of breath and tiredness three months post-infection and notably had not been admitted to intensive care or required mechanical ventilation.

These patients also had demonstrated no sign of lung damage on conventional scans, according to the BBC.

However, the scans using the Xenon technique found signs of lung damage in the eight patients who had reported breathlessness.

This novel scanning technique was initially developed by researchers at the University of Sheffield, led by Professor James Wild.

The Oxford University study, led by Professor Fergus Gleeson, will continue to test the scanning technique in more COVID-19 patients, with a trial involving up to 100 participants set to be planned.

This study will evaluate the technique and seek to identify whether lung damage can be found in COVID-19 patients who were not admitted to hospital and had not experienced severe symptoms.