COVID-19 in the radiology department: What radiographers need to know

Radiography (Lond). 2020 Aug;26(3):254-263. doi: 10.1016/j.radi.2020.05.012. Epub 2020 Jun 4.


Objectives: The aim is to review current literature related to the diagnosis, management, and follow-up of suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Key findings: Medical Imaging plays an important auxiliary role in the diagnosis of Covid-19 patients, mainly those most seriously affected. Practice differs widely among different countries, mainly due to the variability of access to resources (viral testing and imaging equipment, specialised staff, protective equipment). It has been now well-documented that chest radiographs should be the first-line imaging tool and chest CT should only be reserved for critically ill patients, or when chest radiograph and clinical presentation may be inconclusive.

Conclusion: As radiographers work on the frontline, they should be aware of the potential risks associated with Covid-19 and engage in optimal strategies to reduce these. Their role in vetting, conducting and often reporting the imaging examinations is vital, as well as their contribution in patient safety and care. Medical Imaging should be limited to critically ill patients, and where it may have an impact on the patient management plan.

Implications for practice: At the time of publication, this review offers the most up-to-date recommendations for clinical practitioners in radiology departments, including radiographers. Radiography practice has to significantly adjust to these new requirements to support optimal and safe imaging practices for the diagnosis of Covid-19. The adoption of low dose CT, rigorous infection control protocols and optimal use of personal protective equipment may reduce the potential risks of radiation exposure and infection, respectively, within Radiology departments.

Keywords: COVID-19; CT; Chest; Guidelines; Imaging; Radiography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Occupational Health
  • Pandemics
  • Patient Safety
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Radiography, Thoracic / methods
  • Radiography, Thoracic / statistics & numerical data
  • Radiologists / organization & administration*
  • Radiology Department, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Safety Management
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / diagnostic imaging*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler / statistics & numerical data

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19