Temporal Radiographic Changes in COVID-19 Patients: Relationship to Disease Severity and Viral Clearance

Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 24;10(1):10263. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-66895-w.


COVID-19 is "public enemy number one" and has placed an enormous burden on health authorities across the world. Given the wide clinical spectrum of COVID-19, understanding the factors that can predict disease severity will be essential since this will help frontline clinical staff to stratify patients with increased confidence. To investigate the diagnostic value of the temporal radiographic changes, and the relationship to disease severity and viral clearance in COVID-19 patients. In this retrospective cohort study, we included 99 patients admitted to the Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, with laboratory confirmed moderate or severe COVID-19. Temporal radiographic changes and viral clearance were explored using appropriate statistical methods. Radiographic features from HRCT scans included ground-glass opacity, consolidation, air bronchogram, nodular opacities and pleural effusion. The HRCT scores (peak) during disease course in COVID-19 patients with severe pneumonia (median: 24.5) were higher compared to those with pneumonia (median: 10) (p = 3.56 × 10 -12), with more frequency of consolidation (p = 0.025) and air bronchogram (p = 7.50 × 10-6). The median values of days when the peak HRCT scores were reached in pneumonia or severe pneumonia patients were 12 vs. 14, respectively (p = 0.048). Log-rank test and Spearman's Rank-Order correlation suggested temporal radiographic changes as a valuable predictor for viral clearance. In addition, follow up CT scans from 11 pneumonia patients showed full recovery. Given the values of HRCT scores for both disease severity and viral clearance, a standardised HRCT score system for COVID-19 is highly demanded.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronavirus Infections / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / pathology*
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2