Dyspnoea, lung function and CT findings three months after hospital admission for COVID-19

Eur Respir J. 2020 Dec 10;2003448. doi: 10.1183/13993003.03448-2020. Online ahead of print.


The long-term pulmonary outcomes of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are unknown. We aimed to describe self-reported dyspnoea, quality of life, pulmonary function, and chest CT findings three months following hospital admission for COVID-19. We hypothesised outcomes to be inferior for patients admitted to intensive care units (ICU), compared with non-ICU patients.Discharged COVID-19-patients from six Norwegian hospitals were consecutively enrolled in a prospective cohort study. The current report describes the first 103 participants, including 15 ICU patients. Modified Medical Research Council dyspnoea scale (mMRC), EuroQol Group's Questionnaire, spirometry, diffusion capacity (DLCO), six-minute walk test, pulse oximetry, and low-dose CT scan were performed three months after discharge.mMRC was >0 in 54% and >1 in 19% of the participants. The median (25th-75th percentile) forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume in one second were 94% (76, 121) and 92% (84, 106) of predicted, respectively. DLCO was below the lower limit of normal in 24%. Ground-glass opacities (GGO) with >10% distribution in ≥1 of 4 pulmonary zones were present in 25%, while 19% had parenchymal bands on chest CT. ICU survivors had similar dyspnoea scores and pulmonary function as non-ICU patients, but higher prevalence of GGO (adjusted odds ratio [95% confidence interval] 4.2 [1.1, 15.6]) and performance in lower usual activities.Three months after admission for COVID-19, one fourth of the participants had chest CT opacities and reduced diffusion capacity. Admission to ICU was associated with pathological CT findings. This was not reflected in increased dyspnoea or impaired lung function.