Thin-section CT of severe acute respiratory syndrome: evaluation of 73 patients exposed to or with the disease

Radiology. 2003 Aug;228(2):395-400. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2283030541. Epub 2003 May 8.


Purpose: To retrospectively analyze the thin-section computed tomographic (CT) features in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) at the authors' institution.

Materials and methods: From March 11, 2003, to April 2, 2003, 74 patients with symptoms and signs suggestive of SARS underwent CT of the thorax; all underwent thin-section CT except for one patient who underwent conventional CT. Group 1 (n = 23) patients had symptoms of SARS in keeping with criteria from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a positive chest radiograph. Group 2 (n = 17) patients had a high clinical suspicion of SARS but a normal radiograph. Group 3 (n = 34) patients had minor symptoms and a normal chest radiograph. The thin-section CT images were analyzed for ground-glass opacification or consolidation, lesion size in each lung segment, peripheral or central location, interstitial thickening, and other abnormalities.

Results: Thin-section CT scans were abnormal only for patients in groups 1 and 2. The patient with only conventional CT scans was in group 3; scans for group 3 patients were normal. Affected segments were predominantly in the lower lobes (91 of 149 affected segments). Common findings included ground-glass opacification, sometimes with consolidation, and interlobular septal and intralobular interstitial thickening. The size of each lesion and the total number of segments involved were smaller in group 2 patients. A majority of patients in group 1 (14 of 23) had mixed central and peripheral lesions. In group 2, however, peripheral lesions were more common (10 of 17). In both groups, a purely central lesion was uncommon (one of 23 in group 1 and two of 17 in group 2).

Conclusion: Common thin-section CT features of SARS are ground-glass opacification and lower lobe and peripheral distribution.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*