What are common radiologic findings in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Updated: Jun 16, 2020
  • Author: Medscape Drugs & Diseases; more...
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Answer

Chest radiographs of patients with COVID-19 typically demonstrate bilateral air-space consolidation, although plain films may be unremarkable early in the disease. [1]

Chest computed tomography (CT) scans from patients with COVID-19 typically demonstrate bilateral, peripheral ground-glass opacities, a nonspecific finding that also overlaps with other infections. [1] Thus, the diagnostic value of chest CT imaging for COVID-19 may be low and dependent upon radiographic interpretation. Findings from one study found that 56% of patients who presented within 2 days of diagnosis had a normal CT scan, whereas other studies identified chest CT abnormalities in patients before SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected. [1]

Because of these and other variabilities in chest imaging findings, chest radiography or CT scanning alone is not recommended for the diagnosis of COVID-19. The American College of Radiology also does not recommend CT scanning for screening or as a first-line test for diagnosis of COVID-19. [1]


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