CT features of SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia according to clinical presentation: a retrospective analysis of 120 consecutive patients from Wuhan city

Eur Radiol. 2020 Aug;30(8):4417-4426. doi: 10.1007/s00330-020-06854-1. Epub 2020 Apr 11.


Objectives: To characterize the chest computed tomography (CT) findings of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) according to clinical severity. We compared the CT features of common cases and severe cases, symptomatic patients and asymptomatic patients, and febrile and afebrile patients.

Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of the clinical and thoracic CT features of 120 consecutive patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia admitted to a tertiary university hospital between January 10 and February 10, 2020, in Wuhan city, China.

Results: On admission, the patients generally complained of fever, cough, shortness of breath, and myalgia or fatigue, with diarrhea often present in severe cases. Severe patients were 20 years older on average and had comorbidities and an elevated lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) level. There were no differences in the CT findings between asymptomatic and symptomatic common type patients or between afebrile and febrile patients, defined according to Chinese National Health Commission guidelines.

Conclusions: The clinical and CT features at admission may enable clinicians to promptly evaluate the prognosis of patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia. Clinicians should be aware that clinically silent cases may present with CT features similar to those of symptomatic common patients.

Key points: • The clinical features and predominant patterns of abnormalities on CT for asymptomatic, typic common, and severe cases were summarized. These findings may help clinicians to identify severe patients quickly at admission. • Clinicians should be cautious that CT findings of afebrile/asymptomatic patients are not better than the findings of other types of patients. These patients should also be quarantined. • The use of chest CT as the main screening method in epidemic areas is recommended.

Keywords: Chest; Fever; SARS-CoV-2; Tomography.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • China / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Cough / virology
  • Diarrhea / virology
  • Female
  • Fever / virology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed