Mid-term follow-up chest CT findings in recovered COVID-19 patients with residual symptoms

Slow radiological recovery with persistent residual lung alterations is frequent in patients recovering from COVID-19 – a collaboration with our radiology department on the British journal or radiology

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More than a year has passed since the initial outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, which caused many hospitalizations worldwide due to COVID-19 pneumonia and its complications. However, there is still a lack of information detailing short- and long-term outcomes of previously hospitalized patients. The purpose of this study is to analyze the most frequent lung CT findings in recovered COVID-19 patients at mid-term follow-ups.


A total of 407 consecutive COVID-19 patients who were admitted to the Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia and discharged between February 27, 2020, and June 26, 2020 were recruited into this study. Out of these patients, a subset of 108 patients who presented with residual asthenia and dyspnea at discharge, altered spirometric data, positive lung ultrasound and positive chest X-ray was subsequently selected, and was scheduled to undergo a mid-term chest CT study, which was evaluated for specific lung alterations and morphological patterns.


The most frequently observed lung CT alterations, in order of frequency, were ground-glass opacities (81%), linear opacities (74%), bronchiolectases (64.81%), and reticular opacities (63.88%). The most common morphological pattern was the non-specific interstitial pneumonia pattern (63.88%). Features consistent with pulmonary fibrosis were observed in 32 patients (29.62%).


Our work showed that recovered COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized and who exhibited residual symptoms after discharge had a slow radiological recovery with persistent residual lung alterations.

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This slow recovery process should be kept in mind when determining the follow-up phases in order to improve the long-term management of patients affected by COVID-19.


About Silvia Mongodi