Utility of chest CT in diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia

Diagn Interv Radiol. 2020 Jun 3. doi: 10.5152/dir.2020.20144. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: We aimed to explore the imaging findings of computed tomography (CT) in diagnosing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its clinical value for further evaluation of suspected cases.

Methods: Files of 155 patients visiting the fever clinics at our hospital and affiliated hospitals from January 20th to February 9th, 2020 were searched. Among them, 140 cases (including 82 males and 58 females) were included as suspected COVID-19 cases based on clinical and epidemiological history; the CT image features of 70 cases with suggestive findings on CT, confirmed by positive nucleic acid test were analyzed and evaluated. The sensitivity and specificity of CT in diagnosing COVID-19 were evaluated in patients with epidemiological history.

Results: Of the 70 patients, 84.3% showed bilateral lung involvement on CT; 27 cases (38.6%) showed ground-glass opacity (GGO), which was mostly distributed in the subpleural area (55.7%), and this sign was mainly observed in early COVID-19 patients. In addition, 41 cases (58.6%) manifested GGO combined with focal consolidation opacity, 2 (2.8%) had flake-like consolidation opacity, with involvements of the periphery of lung field and the central zone (44.3%), and this sign was mostly observed in severe or critical patients. Concomitant signs such as pleural effusion and mediastinal lymph node enlargement were rare. Among patients with epidemiological history, the sensitivity of CT in diagnosing COVID-19 was 89.7% (70/78), and the specificity was 88.7% (55/62).

Conclusion: CT shows high sensitivity and specificity in diagnosing COVID-19. CT is an important examination method in evaluation of suspected cases and assessment of disease severity.