Saudi J Gastroenterol

. 2022 Jan 14.
doi: 10.4103/sjg.sjg_547_21. Online ahead of print.
Gastrointestinal manifestations of COVID-19 in a single center in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia

Reem J Al Argan 1 , Mona H Ismail 1 , Dania M Alkhafaji 1 , Raed M Alsulaiman 1 , Fatimah E Ismaeel 1 , Reem S AlSulaiman 1 , Ali N Almajid 1 , Lameyaa Alsheekh 1 , Tariq S Alsaif 1 , Alaa A Alzaki 1 , Safi G Alqatari 1 , Abrar J Alwaheed 1 , Abir H Al Said 1 , Marwan J Al Wazzeh 1 , Abdulaziz A AlQurain 1



Background: Several gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms have been associated with novel coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). Their prevalence and relation to the severity and hospital outcome of COVID-19 have not been well reported in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia. We aimed to examine the GI manifestations of COVID-19 and their association with the severity and hospital outcome of COVID-19 infection.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study of hospitalized COVID-19 patients who had a positive SARS-COV2 PCR test and were admitted at a university hospital in Saudi Arabia, from March to September 2020. The primary objective of the study was to describe the GI manifestations of COVID-19. The secondary objective was to investigate the association of GI manifestations with severity and outcome of COVID-19 infection.
Results: We included 390 patients, of which 111 (28.5%) presented with GI manifestations. The most common presentation was diarrhea followed by nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Patients without GI manifestations had a higher risk of severe-critical COVID-19 infection evident by the development of lung infiltration in more than 50% of lung fields within 24-48 h, acute respiratory distress syndrome, altered mental status, multiorgan failure, and cytokine storm syndrome (P < 0.05). These patients had a higher mortality rate compared to patients with GI manifestations (P = 0.01). A lower odds of death was seen among patients with GI symptoms (AOR 0.36; 95% CI, 0.158-0.82; P = 0.01).
Conclusion: COVID-19 infection presents commonly with GI manifestations. Patients with GI manifestations have less severe COVID-19 disease and lower mortality rates.

Keywords: COVID-19 infection; gastrointestinal manifestations; mortality; outcome; severity.