Diagnostics (Basel). 2020 Nov 10;10(11):E929. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics10110929.
Computed tomography (CT) plays an important role in the diagnosis of COVID-19. The aim of this study was to evaluate a simple, semi-quantitative method that can be used for identifying patients in need of subsequent intensive care unit (ICU) treatment and intubation. We retrospectively analyzed the initial CT scans of 28 patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 at our Level-I center. The extent of lung involvement on CT was classified both subjectively and with a simple semi-quantitative method measuring the affected area at three lung levels. Competing risks Cox regression was used to identify factors associated with the time to ICU admission and intubation. Their potential diagnostic ability was assessed with receiver operating characteristic (ROC)/area under the ROC curves (AUC) analysis. A 10% increase in the affected lung parenchyma area increased the instantaneous risk of intubation (hazard ratio (HR) = 2.00) and the instantaneous risk of ICU admission (HR 1.73). The semi-quantitative measurement outperformed the subjective assessment diagnostic ability (AUC = 85.6% for ICU treatment, 71.9% for intubation). This simple measurement of the involved lung area in initial CT scans of COVID-19 patients may allow early identification of patients in need of ICU treatment/intubation and thus help make optimal use of limited ICU/ventilation resources in hospitals.