Eur Radiol. 2020 Oct 3. doi: 10.1007/s00330-020-07346-y. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVES: To assess inter-reader agreements and diagnostic accuracy of chest CT to identify COVID-19 pneumonia in patients with intermediate clinical probability during an acute disease outbreak.
METHODS: From March 20 to April 8, 319 patients (mean age 62.3 years old) consecutive patients with an intermediate clinical probability of COVID-19 pneumonia underwent a chest CT scan. Two independent chest radiologists blinded to clinical information and RT-PCR results retrospectively reviewed and classified images on a 1-5 confidence level scale for COVID-19 pneumonia. Agreements between radiologists were assessed with kappa statistics. Diagnostic accuracy of chest CT compared with RT-PCR assay and patient outcomes was measured using receiver operating characteristics (ROC). Positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) for COVID-19 pneumonia were calculated.
RESULTS: Inter-observer agreement for highly probable (kappa: 0.83 [p < .001]) and highly probable or probable (kappa: 0.82 [p < .001]) diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia was very good. RT-PCR tests performed in 307 patients were positive in 174 and negative in 133. The areas under the curve (AUC) were 0.94 and 0.92 respectively. With a disease prevalence of 61.2%, PPV were 95.9% and 94.3%, and NPV 84.4% and 77.1%.
CONCLUSION: During acute COVID-19 outbreak, chest CT scan may be used for triage of patients with intermediate clinical probability with very good inter-observer agreements and diagnostic accuracy.
KEY POINTS: • Concordances between two chest radiologists to diagnose or exclude a COVID-19 pneumonia in 319 consecutive patients with intermediate clinical probability were very good (kappa: 0.82; p < .001). • When compared with RT-PCR results and patient outcomes, the diagnostic accuracy of CT to identify COVID-19 pneumonia was high for both radiologists (AUC: 0.94 and 0.92). • With a disease prevalence of 61.2% in the studied population, the positive predictive values of CT for diagnosing COVID-19 pneumonia were 95.9% and 94.3% with negative predictive values of 84.4% and 77.1%.