J Xray Sci Technol. 2020 Jul 29. doi: 10.3233/XST-200711. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVES: To assess prognosis or dynamic change from initial diagnosis until recovery of the patients with moderate coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pneumonia using chest CT images.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this retrospective study, 33 patients (18 men, 15 women; median age, 49.0 years) with confirmed with moderate COVID-19 pneumonia in a multicenter hospital were included. The patients underwent at least four chest non-contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) scans at approximately 5-day intervals. We analyzed the clinical and CT characteristics of the patients. Moreover, the total CT score and the sum of lung involvement were determined for every CT scan.
RESULTS: The most widespread presenting symptoms were fever (32/33, 97.0%) and cough (17/33, 51.5%), which were often accompanied by decreased lymphocyte count (15/33, 45.5%) and increased C-reactive protein levels (18/33, 54.6%). Bilateral, multifocal ground glass opacities (32/33, 97.0%), consolidation (25/33, 75.8%), vascular thickening (23/33, 69.7%), and bronchial wall thickening (21/33, 63.6%) with peripheral distribution were the most frequent CT findings during moderate COVID-19 pneumonia. In patients recovering from moderate COVID-19 pneumonia, four stages (stages 1-4) of evolution were identified on chest CT with average CT scores of 3.4±2.3, 6.0±4.4, 5.6±3.8, and 4.9±3.2, respectively, from the onset of symptoms. For most patients, the peak of average total CT score increased for approximately 8 days after the onset of symptoms, after which it decreased gradually. The mean CT score of all patients was 4.7 at the time of discharge.
CONCLUSION: The moderate COVID-19 pneumonia CT score increased rapidly in a short period of time initially, followed by a slow decline over a relatively long time. The peak of the course occurred in stage 2. Complete recovery of patients with moderate COVID-19 pneumonia with high mean CT score at the time of discharge requires longer time.