Most patients with COVID-19 pneumonia showed ground-glass opacities (GGO) (86.1%) or mixed GGO and consolidation (64.4%) and vascular enlargement in the lesion (71.3%), according to a multi-centre study evaluating the relationship between chest CT findings and the clinical conditions of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pneumonia.
In radiology, GGO is a nonspecific finding on computed tomography (CT) scans. GGO indicates partial filling of air spaces in the lungs by exudate or transudate, as well as an interstitial thickening or partial collapse of lung alveoli.
Regarding lesion distribution, patients with COVID-19 were more likely to have peripheral distribution (87.1%), bilateral involvement (82.2%), lower lung predominance (54.5%), and multifocal distribution (54.5%), which are consistent with results of previous studies, say the researchers.
CT is considered as one of the routine imaging modality for diagnosis and for monitoring the care of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.
The study was conducted based on data from 101 cases of COVID-19 pneumonia collected from four institutions in Hunan, China. The researchers compared the clinical characteristics and imaging features between non-emergency (mild or common disease) and emergency (severe or fatal disease) groups in the cohort.
The emergency group patients were older than the patients in the non-emergency group. However, the rate of underlying disease was not significantly different in the two groups—suggesting that viral load could be a better reflection of the severity and extent of COVID-19 pneumonia.
The authors explained further that: “architectural distortion, traction bronchiectasis, and pleural effusions, which may reflect the viral load and virulence of COVID-19, were statistically different between the two groups and may help us to identify the emergency type disease.”
The authors noted that CT may help in early detection of lung abnormalities for screening outpatients within highly suspected cases, especially in patients with an initial negative RT-PCR screening result.
The research is published in the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR).