How did radiologists' diagnostic performance has changed in COVID-19 pneumonia: A single-centre retrospective study

Int J Clin Pract. 2021 Oct;75(10):e14693. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.14693. Epub 2021 Aug 9.


Aims: Delay and false positivity in PCR test results have necessitated accurate chest CT reporting for the management of patients with COVID-19-suspected symptoms. Pandemic related workload and level of experience on covid-dedicated chest CT scans might have affected the diagnostic performance of on-call radiologists. The aim of this study was to reveal the interpretation errors (IEs) in chest CT reports of COVID-19-suspected patients admitted to the Emergency Room (ER).

Methods: Chest CT scans between March and June 2020 were re-evaluated and compared with the former reports and PCR test results. CT scan results were classified into four groups. Parenchymal involvement ratios, radiology departments' workload, COVID-19-related educational activities have been examined.

Results: Out of 5721 Chest CT scans, 783 CTs belonging to 664 patients (340 female, 324 male) were included in this study. PCR test was positive in 398; negative in 385 cases. PCR positivity was found to be highest in "normal" and "typical for covid" groups whereas lowest in "atypical for covid" and "not covid" groups. 5%-25% parenchymal involvement ratio was found in 84.2% of the cases. Regarding the number of chest CT scans performed, radiologists' workload has found to be increased six-folds. With the re-evaluation, a total of 145 IEs (18.5%) have been found. IEs were mostly precipitated in the first two months (88.3%) and mostly in the "not covid" class (60%) regardless of PCR positivity. COVID-19 and radiology entitled educational activities along with the ER admission rates within the first two months of the pandemic have seemed to be related to the decline of IEs within time.

Conclusion: COVID-19 pandemic made a great impact on radiology departments with an inevitable burden of daily chest CT reporting. This workload and concomitant factors have effects on diagnostic challenges in COVID-19 pneumonia.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Radiologists
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2