Lethal COVID-19: Radiologic-Pathologic Correlation of the Lungs

Link to article at PubMed

Radiol Cardiothorac Imaging. 2020 Nov 19;2(6):e200406. doi: 10.1148/ryct.2020200406. eCollection 2020 Dec.


PURPOSE: The purpose of this retrospective study was to correlate CT patterns of fatal cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with postmortem pathology observations.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study included 70 lung lobes of 14 patients who died of reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction-confirmed COVID-19. All patients underwent antemortem CT and autopsy between March 9 and April 30, 2020. Board-certified radiologists and pathologists performed lobewise correlations of pulmonary observations. In a consensus reading, 267 radiologic and 257 histopathologic observations of the lungs were recorded and systematically graded according to severity. These observations were matched and evaluated.

RESULTS: Predominant CT observations were ground-glass opacities (GGO) (59/70 lobes examined) and areas of consolidation (33/70). The histopathologic observations were consistent with diffuse alveolar damage (70/70) and capillary dilatation and congestion (70/70), often accompanied by microthrombi (27/70), superimposed acute bronchopneumonia (17/70), and leukocytoclastic vasculitis (7/70). Four patients had pulmonary emboli. Bronchial wall thickening at CT histologically corresponded with acute bronchopneumonia. GGOs and consolidations corresponded with mixed histopathologic observations, including capillary dilatation and congestion, interstitial edema, diffuse alveolar damage, and microthrombosis. Vascular alterations were prominent observations at both CT and histopathology.

CONCLUSION: A significant proportion of GGO correlated with the pathologic processes of diffuse alveolar damage, capillary dilatation and congestion, and microthrombosis. Our results confirm the presence and underline the importance of vascular alterations as key pathophysiologic drivers in lethal COVID-19.Supplemental material is available for this article.© RSNA, 2020.

PMID:33778642 | PMC:PMC7681778 | DOI:10.1148/ryct.2020200406

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