Correlation of Chest CT and RT-PCR Testing for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China: A Report of 1014 Cases

Radiology. 2020 Aug;296(2):E32-E40. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2020200642. Epub 2020 Feb 26.


Background Chest CT is used in the diagnosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and is an important complement to reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests. Purpose To investigate the diagnostic value and consistency of chest CT as compared with RT-PCR assay in COVID-19. Materials and Methods This study included 1014 patients in Wuhan, China, who underwent both chest CT and RT-PCR tests between January 6 and February 6, 2020. With use of RT-PCR as the reference standard, the performance of chest CT in the diagnosis of COVID-19 was assessed. In addition, for patients with multiple RT-PCR assays, the dynamic conversion of RT-PCR results (negative to positive, positive to negative) was analyzed as compared with serial chest CT scans for those with a time interval between RT-PCR tests of 4 days or more. Results Of the 1014 patients, 601 of 1014 (59%) had positive RT-PCR results and 888 of 1014 (88%) had positive chest CT scans. The sensitivity of chest CT in suggesting COVID-19 was 97% (95% confidence interval: 95%, 98%; 580 of 601 patients) based on positive RT-PCR results. In the 413 patients with negative RT-PCR results, 308 of 413 (75%) had positive chest CT findings. Of those 308 patients, 48% (103 of 308) were considered as highly likely cases and 33% (103 of 308) as probable cases. At analysis of serial RT-PCR assays and CT scans, the mean interval between the initial negative to positive RT-PCR results was 5.1 days ± 1.5; the mean interval between initial positive to subsequent negative RT-PCR results was 6.9 days ± 2.3. Of the 1014 patients, 60% (34 of 57) to 93% (14 of 15) had initial positive CT scans consistent with COVID-19 before (or parallel to) the initial positive RT-PCR results. Twenty-four of 57 patients (42%) showed improvement on follow-up chest CT scans before the RT-PCR results turned negative. Conclusion Chest CT has a high sensitivity for diagnosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Chest CT may be considered as a primary tool for the current COVID-19 detection in epidemic areas. © RSNA, 2020 Online supplemental material is available for this article. A translation of this abstract in Farsi is available in the supplement. ترجمه چکیده این مقاله به فارسی، در ضمیمه موجود است.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / methods
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnostic imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Young Adult