Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(17):2653-2662. doi:10.7150/ijms.51159

Research Paper

Temporal changes of CT findings between non-severe and severe cases of COVID-19 pneumonia: a multi-center, retrospective, longitudinal Study

Meng Dai1,2#, Xiaoming Liu1,2#, Xiqi Zhu3, Tiejun Liu4, Cihao Xu1,2, Fang Ye5, Lian Yang1,2, Yu Zhang1,2✉

1. Department of Radiology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China.
2. Hubei Province Key Laboratory of Molecular Imaging, Wuhan, Hubei, China.
3. Department of Radiology, Nanxishan Hospital, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, No. 46 Chongxin Road, Guilin 541002 Guangxi, People's Republic of China.
4. Department of Radiology, Liuzhou People's Hospital, No. 8, Wenchang Road, Liuzhou 545006, Guangxi, People's Republic of China.
5. Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and Ministry of Education Key Lab for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China.
#These authors contributed equally to this work.

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Citation:
Dai M, Liu X, Zhu X, Liu T, Xu C, Ye F, Yang L, Zhang Y. Temporal changes of CT findings between non-severe and severe cases of COVID-19 pneumonia: a multi-center, retrospective, longitudinal Study. Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(17):2653-2662. doi:10.7150/ijms.51159. Available from http://www.medsci.org/v17p2653.htm

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Abstract

Background and aim: To perform a longitudinal analysis of serial CT findings over time in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.

Methods: From February 5 to March 8, 2020, 73 patients (male to female, ratio of 43:30; mean age, 51 years) with COVID-19 pneumonia were retrospectively enrolled and followed up until discharge from three institutions in China. The patients were divided into the severe and non-severe groups according to treatment option. The patterns and distribution of lung abnormalities, total CT scores, single ground-glass opacity (GGO) CT scores, single consolidation CT scores, single reticular CT scores and the amounts of zones involved were reviewed by 2 radiologists. These features were analyzed for temporal changes.

Results: In non-severe group, total CT scores (median, 9.5) and the amounts of zones involved were slowly increased and peaked in disease week 2. In the severe group, the increase was faster, with scores also peaking at 2 weeks (median, 20). In both groups, the later parameters began to decrease in week 4 (median values of 9 and 19 in the non-severe and severe groups, respectively). In the severe group, the dominant residual lung lesions were reticular (median single reticular CT score, 10) and consolidation (median single consolidation CT score, 7). In the non-severe group, the dominant residual lung lesions were GGO (median single GGO CT score, 7) and reticular (median single reticular CT score, 4). In both non-severe and severe groups, the GGO pattern was dominant in week 1, with a higher proportion in the severe group compared with the non-severe group (72% vs. 65%). The consolidation pattern peaked in week 2, with 9 (32%) and 19 (73%) in the non-severe and severe groups, respectively; the reticular pattern became dominant from week 4 (both group >40%).

Conclusion: The extent of CT abnormalities in the severe and non-severe groups peaked in disease week 2. The temporal changes of CT manifestations followed a specific pattern, which might indicate disease progression and recovery.

Keywords: COVID-19, CT score, Ground-glass opacity, CT abnormalities, non-severe, severe