The time course of chest CT lung changes in COVID-19 patients from onset to discharge

Link to article at PubMed

Eur J Radiol Open. 2020 Dec 5;8:100305. doi: 10.1016/j.ejro.2020.100305. eCollection 2021.


BACKGROUND & AIMS: Computed tomography (CT) is widely used to evaluate the severity of COVID-19 infection and track disease progression. We described the changes in chest CT to enable better understanding of the progression of COVID-19 during hospitalization.

METHODS: Consecutively hospitalized COVID-19 patients admitted from January 11, 2020 to February 16, 2020 and followed until March 26, 2020 at the Third People's Hospital of Shenzhen, China were included. Semi- quantitative analysis was used to assess the shape, distribution, and range of lung lesions. For each image, the lungs were divided into six regions. The total CT score was the sum of individual region scores.

RESULTS: 305 patients underwent a total of 1442 chest CT scans with a mean interval of 5 days (interquartile range (IQR) = 3-6 days). All patients were discharged after an average hospitalization of 25 days (IQR = 20-33 days). From the onset of initial symptoms, the total CT score peaked at an earlier date in the non-severe than the severe cases (13 days versus 15 days). Typical CT image of non-severe cases mainly presented as ground-glass opacities (GGO), whilst GGO mixed with consolidation was more seen in severe cases. In addition, severe versus non-severe cases had higher prevalence of fibrosis and air bronchogram in CT scans (P from <0.001 to 0.05, P = 0.001, respectively). The proportion of patients with fibrosis and air bronchogram appeared to decrease from the fourth (20 days from onset, IQR = 16-24) and the third pulmonary CT scan (15 days from onset, IQR = 12-19), respectively.

CONCLUSION: COVID-19 pneumonia demonstrated progressions in early stage, with the greatest pulmonary damage on CT occurred at approximately 13 days after initial onset of symptoms. Worse bilateral pulmonary infiltrates were found in severe cases, indicating continuous health care for pulmonary rehabilitation and consecutive follow-up to monitor irreversible fibrosis and consolidation are necessary.

PMID:33392360 | PMC:PMC7773583 | DOI:10.1016/j.ejro.2020.100305

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