. 2022 May 24;10:1266.
doi: 10.12688/f1000research.75311.2. eCollection 2021. Quantitative image analysis in COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome: a cohort observational study

Tamas Dolinay 1 2 , Dale Jun 1 2 , Abigail Maller 1 2 , Augustine Chung 1 2 , Brandon Grimes 1 2 , Lillian Hsu 1 2 , David Nelson 2 , Bianca Villagas 3 , Grace Hyun J Kim 3 , Jonathan Goldin 3


Background Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a severe form of acute lung injury commonly associated with pneumonia, including coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19). The resultant effect can be persistent lung damage, but its extent is not known. We used quantitative high resolution computed tomography (QHR-CT) lung scans to radiographically characterize the lung damage in COVID-19 ARDS (CARDS) survivors. Methods Patients with CARDS (N=20) underwent QHR-CT lung scans 60 to 90 days after initial diagnosis, while hospitalized at a long-term acute care hospital (LTACH). QHR-CT assessed for mixed disease (QMD), ground glass opacities (QGGO), consolidation (QCON) and normal lung tissue (QNL). QMD was correlated with respiratory support on admission, tracheostomy decannulation and supplementary oxygen need on discharge. Results Sixteen patients arrived with tracheostomy requiring invasive mechanical ventilation. Four patients arrived on nasal oxygen support. Of the patients included in this study 10 had the tracheostomy cannula removed, four remained on invasive ventilation, and two died. QHR-CT showed 45% QMD, 28.1% QGGO, 3.0% QCON and QNL=23.9%. Patients with mandatory mechanical ventilation had the highest proportion of QMD when compared to no mechanical ventilation. There was no correlation between QMD and tracheostomy decannulation or need for supplementary oxygen at discharge. Conclusions Our data shows severe ongoing lung injury in patients with CARDS, beyond what is usually expected in ARDS. In this severely ill population, the extent of mixed disease correlates with mechanical ventilation, signaling formation of interstitial lung disease. QHR-CT analysis can be useful in the post-acute setting to evaluate for interstitial changes in ARDS.

Keywords: COVID-19; acute respiratory distress syndrome; quantitative high-resolution lung CT scanning.