Purpose: Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and chest computed tomography (CT) scan are main diagnostic modalities of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, there is still no consensus on which of these methods is superior to the other. Therefore, the present meta-analysis was designed to answer to the question whether CT scan can be used in diagnosis of COVID-19 or not.
Methods: Searches were performed in Medline, Embase, Scopus, and Web of Science databases until the end of April 2020. Two researchers gathered the data of diagnostic accuracy studies that had attempted to evaluate sensitivity and specificity of CT scan in diagnosis of COVID-19.
Results: Data of 9 studies were included. Area under the curve of ground glass opacity (GGO), consolidation, pleural effusion, other CT features, and simultaneous observation of GGO with other CT features was 0.64 (95% CI 0.60-0.69), 0.30 (95% CI 0.26-0.34), 0.60 (95% CI 0.56-0.64), 0.61 (95% CI 0.56-0.65), and 0.90 (95% CI 0.87-0.92), respectively. Sensitivity and specificity of simultaneous observation of GGO with other CT scan features was higher than all of the other signs. Sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic odds ratio of this sign was calculated to be 0.90, 0.89, and 20, respectively.
Conclusion: Simultaneous observation of GGO and other features of viral pneumonia in CT scan had optimum performance in detection of COVID-19. However, it is suggested to make the final diagnosis based on both CT scan and RT-PCR, as none of the two diagnostic modalities are reliable alone.
Keywords: COVID-19; Polymerase chain reaction; Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; Tomography X-ray computed.
© Italian Association of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 2020.