OBJECTIVE. Confronting the new coronavirus infection known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is challenging and requires excluding patients with suspected COVID-19 who actually have other diseases. The purpose of this study was to assess the clinical features and CT manifestations of COVID-19 by comparing patients with COVID-19 pneumonia with patients with non-COVID-19 pneumonia who presented at a fever observation department in Shanghai, China. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Patients were retrospectively enrolled in the study from January 19 through February 6, 2020. All patients underwent real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing. RESULTS. Eleven patients had RT-PCR test results that were positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, whereas 22 patients had negative results. No statistical difference in clinical features was observed (p > 0.05), with the exception of leukocyte and platelet counts (p < 0.05). The mean (± SD) interval between onset of symptoms and admission to the fever observation department was 4.40 ± 2.00 and 5.52 ± 4.00 days for patients with positive and negative RT-PCR test results, respectively. The frequency of opacifications in patients with positive results and patients with negative results, respectively, was as follows: ground-glass opacities (GGOs), 100.0% versus 90.9%; mixed GGO, 63.6% versus 72.7%; and consolidation, 54.5% versus 77.3%. In patients with positive RT-PCR results, GGOs were the most commonly observed opacification (seen in 100.0% of patients) and were predominantly located in the peripheral zone (100.0% of patients), compared with patients with negative results (31.8%) (p = 0.05). The median number of affected lung lobes and segments was higher in patients with positive RT-PCR results than in those with negative RT-PCR results (five vs 3.5 affected lobes and 15 vs nine affected segments; p < 0.05). Although the air bronchogram reticular pattern was more frequently seen in patients with positive results, centrilobular nodules were less frequently seen in patients with positive results. CONCLUSION. At the point during the COVID-19 outbreak when this study was performed, imaging patterns of multifocal, peripheral, pure GGO, mixed GGO, or consolidation with slight predominance in the lower lung and findings of more extensive GGO than consolidation on chest CT scans obtained during the first week of illness were considered findings highly suspicious of COVID-19.
Keywords: COVID-19; CT; coronavirus disease 2019; pneumonia.