CT scans can be faster than nasal and throat smears when diagnosing coronavirus, a new study suggests.
Doctors from the Mount Sinai Health System in New York were the first in the US to analyze lung scans of patients in China with the highly contagious disease.
They said they were able to identify specific patterns in the lungs as markers of the virus, also known as COVID-19, because it developed over the course of about two weeks
The researchers say these faster diagnoses can help keep patients isolated in early stages of the disease, perhaps even before symptoms appear and when it may not appear on other scans, such as chest x-rays.
Researchers have found blurred findings in the lungs that are coronavirus markers and are not typical of other lung diseases. Pictured: Scan 15-year-old who had traveled to Wuhan. CT scan three days after the occurrence of symptoms and arrows point to markers of the virus
The blurred lesions (referred to) are round in shape and on the circumference of the lungs. Pictured: scan of 65-year-old who traveled to Wuhan. Scan was taken 11 days after the onset of symptoms
“CT scans are an extremely powerful diagnostic tool, because you can see the inner organs in a three-dimensional way,” lead author Dr. Adam Bernheim, an assistant professor of diagnostic, molecular and interventional radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine on Mount Sinai, told DailyMail.com.
“And you can see the manifestation of many diseases.”
For the study, published in the journal Radiology, the team analyzed scans of 94 patients in four medical centers in four Chinese provinces.
The patients were admitted between January 18 and February 2 and all had either recently traveled to Wuhan – the epicenter of an outbreak – or had come into contact with an infected person.
Radiologists assessed the scan and took notes based on when the symptoms first appeared and when the CT scan was performed.
Thirty-six patients received scans zero to two days after reporting symptoms and more than half showed no evidence of lung disease.
The team says this is important because it suggests that CT scans cannot reliably detect the corona virus at the earliest stages.
CDC’s test can identify patients before patients become symptomatic, although some may still have the virus if they first test negative. However, the results can take days to come back from the labs of the office.
But 33 patients who received scans three to five days after the symptoms developed had patterns of ‘ground glass opacity’ or haze in the lungs.
“The lung abnormalities are very round in shape and affect the perimeter of the lung,” co-author Dr. Michael Chung, an assistant professor of diagnostic, molecular and interventional radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine on Mount Sinai, told DailyMail. com.
The 25 patients who underwent CT scans between six and 12 days after the first report of symptoms had convincing evidence of lung disease.
The team said these patterns are similar to scans of patients with outbreaks of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (respiratory syndrome in the Middle East) and are very different from diseases such as bacterial pneumonia
Both SARS and MERS are cousins of the new corona virus.
More than 82,000 people worldwide have been infected and more than 2,800 people have died.
Patients who received scans zero to two days after the symptoms first appeared had little or no evidence of lung disease in their results such as this 19-year-old man who had a CT scan the day after the symptoms first appeared
The team said that the pattern in the lung of coronavirus patients is comparable to scans of patients with SARS and is very different from diseases such as bacterial pneumonia (photo)
More than 82,000 people worldwide have been infected with coronavirus and more than 2,800 people have died
As the virus has spread from China to nearly 50 other countries, health experts have been looking for a way to quickly and accurately diagnose patients.
The team says it wants to use CT scans in conjunction with test kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but they can inform radiologists that a patient is a corona virus before the test kit results return.
They add that CT scan images enable radiologists to see the disease much more clearly than an x-ray of the breast.
In the US, American Health Imaging CT scans can cost as little as $ 270 and $ 5,000.
Much of this depends on the insurance, where the scan is performed and whether the hospital and / or radiologist is in the network or outside the network.
Dr. Bernheim and Dr. Chung say, however, that these scans are “relatively cheap” in America and that there is a wide range of how they are performed.
They also added that these scans have a ‘risk benefit’, which means that the risk of an action (a scan that costs thousands of dollars) may not outweigh the potential benefits (diagnosis of someone with coronavirus).
Nevertheless, they say that the findings of the study may enable the hospital to definitively confirm or exclude coronavirus based on CT scan images.
“We need to focus on rapid diagnosis and CT scans will play a major role in that,” Dr. said. Chung.
“The radiologists who are informed about what the corona virus looks like in the lungs, the better.”
Dr. Bernheim added: “Rapid diagnosis is so important for rapid treatment and, from a public health perspective, to make people quickly isolated.”