Cureus. 2021 Mar 21;13(3):e14023. doi: 10.7759/cureus.14023.
Objective The study was conducted with the objective of describing High-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) chest findings of clinically suspected COVID-19 patients having a negative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay as well as prevalence and distribution of the HRCT chest manifestations consistent with the diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia. Methods This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted prospectively on a total of 48 patients with high clinical suspicion for COVID-19 and a negative RT-PCR assay that was presented to the Diagnostic Radiology Department of Capital Hospital, Islamabad from July 2020 to December 2020. These patients were included via non-probability consecutive sampling, had a positive history of contact with a known COVID-19 patient and/or any two of the following signs and symptoms; fever, cough, malaise, body aches, arthralgia, new-onset loss of taste and smell, and dyspnea or oxygen saturation less than 85%. A detailed history was sought after informed consent and all these patients underwent non-contrast HRCT chest scans that were reported by an experienced consultant radiologist. The scans showing positive features for COVID-19 pneumonia were assessed for the nature and distribution of the disease. Results Amongst 48 suspects with negative RT-PCR assay, 38 (79.2%) showed ground-glass opacities, a hallmark feature of COVID-19 pneumonia. A total of 22 (57.89%) of these 38 patients had ground-glass opacities with a crazy-paving pattern, nine (23.68%) mixed ground-glass opacities with consolidation, and seven (18.42%) had pure ground-glass opacities. Among these 79.2% suspects, ground-glass opacities were multifocal in 37 (97.37%), bilateral in 35 (92.10%), peripheral in 36 (94.74%), and dorsally located in 32 (81.6%) cases. Subpleural atelectatic bands were seen in 18 (47.36%) of these, bronchovascular markings were prominent in 15 (39.47%), and reverse halo sign was positive in nine (23.68%) cases. Out of the rest of the cases, three were diagnosed as interstitial lung disease, two as chronic lung disease, and one as active pulmonary tuberculosis. Conclusion The majority of clinically suspected cases for COVID-19 showed hallmark findings on non-contrast HRCT chest scans in keeping with coronavirus disease regardless of a negative RT-PCR assay.