MUMBAI: After blood clots in the arteries of limbs, heart and brain, Covid patients are coming with intestinal clots and gangrene. Across city hospitals, nearly a dozen cases have been treated by physicians and surgeons, who caution that complaints of excruciating and unexplained stomach pain should be investigated.
Sunil Gavali is one recent case treated at Holy Spirit Hospital, in which doctors detected a Covid-induced clot in the intestine. The 58-year-old had come to the emergency ward with severe abdominal pain after a meal. The man, an OT staffer at the same hospital, was vaccinated with both doses of Covishield, and there were no usual Covid red flags. When Gavali’s pain didn’t subside with medications, doctors did a CT scan which showed multiple clots in the main artery supplying blood to the intestine, called mesenteric superior.
Vascular surgeon Dr Aniruddha Bhuiyan said there was no time to spare as the clot had led to intestinal gangrene, which if not treated immediately, could become fatal. The surgeon dissolved the clot and cleared it, reversing the gangrene and avoiding a surgery of the intestine that could have been debilitating. “It was my tenth case in the past 8-9 months where Covid and intestinal clot have presented together,” he said, adding that in several cases, patients didn’t come with the typical respiratory signs. “Stomach pain was their only complaint,” he said, adding that Gavali had subsequently tested positive for Covid.
Studies have shown that around 16-30% of Covid-19 patients also have gastrointestinal symptoms and have minimal to no signs of respiratory problems. Patients with intestinal clots can come with acute mesenteric ischemia, a rare abdominal emergency associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality.
Laparoscopic and gastrointestinal surgeon Dr Hemant Patil, who consults with Fortis and Jupiter Hospitals, has diagnosed five cases of intestinal gangrene, of which one succumbed due to complications of Covid and two needed surgeries to eliminate the gangrene. “They all presented with acute abdominal pain and were later detected with Covid,” he said, adding that after the pandemic there’s been a definite rise in cases of intestinal gangrene among Covid patients and even among vaccinated people.
Surgeon Dr Jiten Chowdhry is currently treated two patients in their 50’s of which one is a diabetic.
“One of them had a history of Covid and the other person tested positive after he came to us with intestinal clot,” he said.
“There is emerging evidence that some Covid patients can purely present with gastrointestinal signs,” he said.
Gujarat’s Rajkot has reportedly seen over 100 such cases.
Gastroenterologist Dr Amit Maydeo said that he has not seen cases of intestinal clot, but they have seen Covid patients come with diarrhoea, loose motions, severe pancreatitis.
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