Chest CT for Typical Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pneumonia: Relationship to Negative RT-PCR Testing

Radiology. 2020 Aug;296(2):E41-E45. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2020200343. Epub 2020 Feb 12.


Some patients with positive chest CT findings may present with negative results of real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In this study, the authors present chest CT findings from five patients with COVID-19 infection who had initial negative RT-PCR results. All five patients had typical imaging findings, including ground-glass opacity (five patients) and/or mixed ground-glass opacity and mixed consolidation (two patients). After isolation for presumed COVID-19 pneumonia, all patients were eventually confirmed to have COVID-19 infection by means of repeated swab tests. A combination of repeated swab tests and CT scanning may be helpful for individuals with a high clinical suspicion of COVID-19 infection but negative findings at RT-PCR screening.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / methods
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnostic imaging
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods