COVID-19 Stroke Apical Lung Examination Study: A Diagnostic and Prognostic Imaging Biomarker in Suspected Acute Stroke

Link to article at PubMed

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2020 Sep 17. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A6832. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Diagnosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) relies on clinical features and reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction testing, but the sensitivity is limited. Carotid CTA is a routine acute stroke investigation and includes the lung apices. We evaluated CTA as a potential COVID-19 diagnostic imaging biomarker.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a multicenter, retrospective study (n = 225) including CTAs of patients with suspected acute stroke from 3 hyperacute stroke units (March-April 2020). We evaluated the reliability and accuracy of candidate diagnostic imaging biomarkers. Demographics, clinical features, and risk factors for COVID-19 and stroke were analyzed using univariate and multivariate statistics.

RESULTS: Apical ground-glass opacification was present in 22.2% (50/225) of patients. Ground-glass opacification had high interrater reliability (Fleiss κ = 0.81; 95% CI, 0.68-0.95) and, compared with reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, had good diagnostic performance (sensitivity, 75% [95% CI, 56-87]; specificity, 81% [95% CI, 71-88]; OR = 11.65 [95% CI, 4.14-32.78]; P < .001) on multivariate analysis. In contrast, all other contemporaneous demographic, clinical, and imaging features available at CTA were not diagnostic for COVID-19. The presence of apical ground-glass opacification was an independent predictor of increased 30-day mortality (18.0% versus 5.7%, P = .017; hazard ratio = 3.51; 95% CI, 1.42-8.66; P = .006).

CONCLUSIONS: We identified a simple, reliable, and accurate COVID-19 diagnostic and prognostic imaging biomarker obtained from CTA lung apices: the presence or absence of ground-glass opacification. Our findings have important implications in the management of patients presenting with suspected stroke through early identification of COVID-19 and the subsequent limitation of disease transmission.

PMID:32943416 | DOI:10.3174/ajnr.A6832

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