Approximately 20% of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) only show gastrointestinal symptoms, according to a study published in Abdominal Radiology.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused over 1.2 million deaths and there have been more than 47.3 million deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and generalized abdominal pain, are all associated with COVID-19. Of all COVID-19 cases, 18% pf patients show these symptoms. 

Investigators examined 36 studies published through July 15. According to the study, 16% of COVID-19 cases may only present with gastrointestinal symptoms. When making a COVID-19 diagnosis, physicians should check for inflammation of the small and large bowels and air within the bowel perforation. According to the study, these symptoms are rare, but could indicate advanced disease. 

"Seeing these things is not necessarily telling us a patient has COVID-19," said Mitch Wilson, a radiologist and clinical lecturer in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry said in the press release. "It could be from a variety of potential causes. But one of those potential causes is infection from the virus, and in an environment where COVID-19 is very prevalent, it's something to consider and potentially raise as a possibility to the referring physician."

Review finds almost 20% of COVID-19 patients only show gastrointestinal symptoms [News Release] November 3, 2020; Alberta, CA. Accessed November 4, 2020.