Widespread Parenchymal Abnormalities and Pulmonary Embolism on Contrast-Enhanced CT Predict Disease Severity and Mortality in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

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Front Med (Lausanne). 2021 Jun 29;8:666723. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2021.666723. eCollection 2021.


Purpose: Severe COVID-19 is associated with inflammation, thromboembolic disease, and high mortality. We studied factors associated with fatal outcomes in consecutive COVID-19 patients examined by computed tomography pulmonary angiogram (CTPA). Methods: This retrospective, single-center cohort analysis included 130 PCR-positive patients hospitalized for COVID-19 [35 women and 95 men, median age 57 years (interquartile range 51-64)] with suspected pulmonary embolism based on clinical suspicion. The presence and extent of embolism and parenchymal abnormalities on CTPA were recorded. The severity of pulmonary parenchymal involvement was stratified by two experienced radiologists into two groups: lesions affecting ≤50% or >50% of the parenchyma. Patient characteristics, radiological aspects, laboratory parameters, and 60-day mortality data were collected. Results: Pulmonary embolism was present in 26% of the patients. Most emboli were small and peripheral. Patients with widespread parenchymal abnormalities, with or without pulmonary embolism, had increased main pulmonary artery diameter (p < 0.05) and higher C-reactive protein (p < 0.01), D-dimer (p < 0.01), and troponin T (p < 0.001) and lower hemoglobin (p < 0.001). A wider main pulmonary artery diameter correlated positively with C-reactive protein (r = 0.28, p = 0.001, and n = 130) and procalcitonin. In a multivariant analysis, D-dimer >7.2 mg/L [odds ratio (±95% confidence interval) 4.1 (1.4-12.0)] and ICU stay were significantly associated with embolism (p < 0.001). The highest 60-day mortality was found in patients with widespread parenchymal abnormalities combined with pulmonary embolism (36%), followed by patients with widespread parenchymal abnormalities without pulmonary embolism (26%). In multivariate analysis, high troponin T, D-dimer, and plasma creatinine and widespread parenchymal abnormalities on CT were associated with 60-day mortality. Conclusions: Pulmonary embolism combined with widespread parenchymal abnormalities contributed to mortality risk in COVID-19. Elevated C-reactive protein, D-dimer, troponin-T, P-creatinine, and enlarged pulmonary artery were associated with a worse outcome and may mirror a more severe systemic disease. A liberal approach to radiological investigation should be recommended at clinical deterioration, when the situation allows it. Computed tomography imaging, even without intravenous contrast to assess the severity of pulmonary infiltrates, are of value to predict outcome in COVID-19. Better radiological techniques with higher resolution could potentially improve the detection of microthromboses. This could influence anticoagulant treatment strategies, preventing clinical detoriation.

PMID:34268322 | PMC:PMC8275973 | DOI:10.3389/fmed.2021.666723

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