Radiographic Findings and Association With Clinical Severity and Outcomes in Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19

Curr Probl Diagn Radiol. 2022 Nov-Dec;51(6):884-891. doi: 10.1067/j.cpradiol.2022.04.002. Epub 2022 Apr 22.


Purpose: To describe evolution and severity of radiographic findings and assess association with disease severity and outcomes in critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Materials and methods: This retrospective study included 62 COVID-19 patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Clinical data was obtained from electronic medical records. A total of 270 chest radiographs were reviewed and qualitatively scored (CXR score) using a severity scale of 0-30. Radiographic findings were correlated with clinical severity and outcome.

Results: The CXR score increases from a median initial score of 10 at hospital presentation to the median peak CXR score of 18 within a median time of 4 days after hospitalization, and then slowly decreases to a median last CXR score of 15 in a median time of 12 days after hospitalization. The initial and peak CXR score was independently associated with invasive MV after adjusting for age, gender, body mass index, smoking, and comorbidities (Initial, odds ratio [OR]: 2.11 per 5-point increase, confidence interval [CI] 1.35-3.32, P= 0.001; Peak, OR: 2.50 per 5-point increase, CI 1.48-4.22, P= 0.001). Peak CXR scores were also independently associated with vasopressor usage (OR: 2.28 per 5-point increase, CI 1.30-3.98, P= 0.004). Peak CXR scores strongly correlated with the duration of invasive MV (Rho = 0.62, P< 0.001), while the initial CXR score (Rho = 0.26) and the peak CXR score (Rho = 0.27) correlated weakly with the sequential organ failure assessment score. No statistically significant associations were found between radiographic findings and mortality.

Conclusions: Evolution of radiographic features indicates rapid disease progression and correlate with requirement for invasive MV or vasopressors but not mortality, which suggests potential nonpulmonary pathways to death in COVID-19.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Critical Illness*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index