We examined the radiological and pulmonary function outcomes of children affected with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) at 6 months from diagnosis. Twenty-one female and 26 male Chinese patients (median age, 13.6 years; interquartile range, 9.9-16.0) were studied. In each subject, high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) of the thorax and pulmonary function were assessed. All children were asymptomatic and had a normal clinical examination. Mild pulmonary abnormalities were detected on HRCT in 16 (34.0%) subjects, including residual ground-glass opacification (n = 5), air trapping (n = 8), and a combination of ground-glass changes and air trapping (n = 3). The need for oxygen supplementation (P = 0.02) and lymphopenia during the course of illness (P = 0.012) were significant risk factors in predicting abnormal HRCT. There were no significant lung function differences between those with and without HRCT abnormalities. Despite complete clinical resolution, a considerable proportion of children affected with SARS had abnormal HRCT findings at 6 months. These abnormalities were more prevalent in those with severe disease. It is important that careful follow-up be carried out to assess the clinical significance and persistence of such abnormalities.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.