Clinical Application of Chest Computed Tomography (CT) in Detection and Characterization of Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pneumonia in Adults

J Digit Imaging. 2021 Feb 9;1-11. doi: 10.1007/s10278-021-00426-5. Online ahead of print.


To analyze diagnostic accuracy of chest computed tomography (CT) and RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) for COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 19) pneumonia in early and progressive stages. To evaluate if combination of chest CT with RT-PCR can supplement the shortage of RT-PCR in diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia. We conducted a prospective study on 103 male patients. The study population were divided into two groups; early COVID-19 stage (number = 50 patients, with positive RT-PCR but mild symptoms) and progressive COVID-19 stage (number = 53, positive RT-PCR and sever symptoms including fever > 37.5 °C, cough, and shortness of breath). All patients underwent CT imaging. The early stage included typical category; 34% (17 out of 50 cases), 6% indeterminate category (3 cases), 10% atypical category (5 cases) and 50% (25 cases) were normal CT imaging. The progressive stage included typical category that was further divided to five subgroups; (i) peripheral bilateral lower lobe ground-glass opacity (GGO) in (37.7%), (ii) peripheral bilateral lower lobes GGO with peribronchovascular consolidation and bronchiolar dilatation in (18.8%), (iii) peripheral bilateral lower lobes GGO with crazy paving appearance in (15%), (iv) bilateral diffuse GGO in (18.8%), and (v) peripheral bilateral GGO with mediastinal lymph node enlargement (9.4%). Chest CT imaging could aid to supplement the shortages of PCR for clinically suspected patients of COVID-19 in the epidemic area as CT was positive in 50% of patients. Chest CT is very effective in detecting pulmonary parenchymal abnormalities in the progressive stage of COVID-19 patients in 100%.

Keywords: Atypical viral pneumonia; COVID-19; CT; Ground glass opacities.