CT Features of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pneumonia in 62 Patients in Wuhan, China

OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to investigate 62 subjects in Wuhan, China, with laboratory-confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pneumonia and describe the CT features of this epidemic disease.

MATERIALS AND METHODS. A retrospective study of 62 consecutive patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 pneumonia was performed. CT images and clinical data were reviewed. Two thoracic radiologists evaluated the distribution and CT signs of the lesions and also scored the extent of involvement of the CT signs. The Mann-Whitney U test was used to compare lesion distribution and CT scores. The chi-square test was used to compare the CT signs of early-phase versus advanced-phase COVID-19 pneumonia.

RESULTS. A total of 62 patients (39 men and 23 women; mean [± SD] age, 52.8 ± 12.2 years; range, 30–77 years) with COVID-19 pneumonia were evaluated. Twenty-four of 30 patients who underwent routine blood tests (80.0%) had a decreased lymphocyte count. Of 27 patients who had their erythrocyte sedimentation rate and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein level assessed, 18 (66.7%) had an increased erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and all 27 (100.0%) had an elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein level. Multiple lesions were seen on the initial CT scan of 52 of 62 patients (83.9%). Forty-eight of 62 patients (77.4%) had predominantly peripheral distribution of lesions. The mean CT score for the upper zone (3.0 ± 3.4) was significantly lower than that for the middle (4.5 ± 3.8) and lower (4.5 ± 3.7) zones (p = 0.022 and p = 0.020, respectively), and there was no significant difference in the mean CT score of the middle and lower zones (p = 1.00). The mean CT score for the anterior area (4.4 ± 4.1) was significantly lower than that for the posterior area (7.7 ± 6.3) (p = 0.003). CT findings for the patients were as follows: 25 patients (40.3%) had ground-glass opacities (GGO), 21 (33.9%), consolidation; 39 (62.9%), GGO plus a reticular pattern; 34 (54.8%), vacuolar sign; 28 (45.2%), microvascular dilation sign; 35 (56.5%), fibrotic streaks; 21 (33.9%), a subpleural line; and 33 (53.2%), a subpleural transparent line. With regard to bronchial changes seen on CT, 45 patients (72.6%) had air bronchogram, and 11 (17.7%) had bronchus distortion. In terms of pleural changes, CT showed that 30 patients (48.4%) had pleural thickening, 35 (56.5%) had pleural retraction sign, and six (9.7%) had pleural effusion. Compared with early-phase disease (≤ 7 days after the onset of symptoms), advanced-phase disease (8–14 days after the onset of symptoms) was characterized by significantly increased frequencies of GGO plus a reticular pattern, vacuolar sign, fibrotic streaks, a subpleural line, a subpleural transparent line, air bronchogram, bronchus distortion, and pleural effusion; however, GGO significantly decreased in advanced-phase disease.

CONCLUSION. CT examination of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia showed a mixed and diverse pattern with both lung parenchyma and the interstitium involved. Identification of GGO and a single lesion on the initial CT scan suggested early-phase disease. CT signs of aggravation and repair coexisted in advanced-phase disease. Lesions presented with a characteristic multifocal distribution in the middle and lower lung regions and in the posterior lung area. A decreased lymphocyte count and an increased high-sensitivity C-reactive protein level were the most common laboratory findings.


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