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Autopsy studies are helping doctors understand how the coronavirus attacks the body.
When the virus was first discovered, doctors thought COVID-19 was mainly a respiratory disease like pneumonia, but they've since learned that it can cause blood clots that can lead to serious complications like strokes, kidney failure, and immune system complications.
Autopsy studies of coronavirus patients show that blood clots from the disease are not only present in the lungs, but can be found in "almost every organ", a New York University pathologist told CNN on Thursday.
NYU Langone Medical Center's chair of the department of pathology, Dr. Amy Rapkiewicz, described the new findings, which her team published in The Lancet journal EClinicalMedicine last month, as "dramatic."
When the virus was first discovered, doctors thought COVID-19 was a respiratory disease like pneumonia, but they've since learned that the virus can cause blood clots. These can lead to more serious issues like strokes, kidney failure, heart inflammation, and immune system complications, Business Insider's Holly Secon reported.
Doctors previously reported that excessive blood clots can occur in large blood vessels, as well as the lungs, heart, brain, and skin.
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But the new study suggests that blood clots can also affect smaller blood vessels.
"And this was dramatic, because though we might have expected it in the lungs, we found it in almost every organ that we looked at in our autopsy study," she told CNN's Erin Burnett.
The autopsy study also showed the noteworthy appearance of large bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes. Rapkiewicz said these cells "usually don't circulate outside the bones and lungs."
"We found them in the heart and the kidneys and the liver and other organs," she told CNN. "Notably in the heart, megakaryocytes produce something called platelets that are intimately involved in blood clotting."
According to CNN, researchers plan to determine the connection between the large bone marrow cells and small blood vessel clotting in the coronavirus.
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