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. 2020 May 15;1-5.
doi: 10.2214/AJR.20.23418. Online ahead of print.

Diagnostic Tools for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Comparing CT and RT-PCR Viral Nucleic Acid Testing

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Diagnostic Tools for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Comparing CT and RT-PCR Viral Nucleic Acid Testing

Joseph V Waller et al. AJR Am J Roentgenol. .

Abstract

OBJECTIVE. Multiple studies suggest CT should be a primary diagnostic tool for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) because they reported sensitivities with CT far superior to that of reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing. This review aimed to assess these reports and found chest CT to have a clinical utility that is limited, particularly for patients who show no symptoms and patients who are screened early in disease progression. CONCLUSION. CT has limited sensitivity for COVID-19 and a lower specificity than RT-PCR testing, and it carries a risk of exposing providers to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Chest CT should be considered a supplemental diagnostic tool, particularly for patients who show symptoms.

Keywords: COVID-19; RT-PCR; SARS-CoV-2; chest CT; coronavirus disease; sensitivity; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; specificity.

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