LSU Health New Orleans Finds Chest X-Rays Predictive of COVID-19

LsuhealthNEW ORLEANS – LSU Health New Orleans said a team of its radiologists has investigated the usefulness of chest X-rays in COVID-19 and found they could aid in a rapid diagnosis of the disease, especially in areas with limited testing capacity or delayed test results. The findings are published in Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging, available here.

“In mid to late March of this year, when COVID-19 cases were spiking in New Orleans, we recognized an unusual pattern on chest X-rays that seemed to correlate with COVID positivity,” said David Smith, MD, associate professor of clinical radiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.

The radiologists conducted a retrospective study of nearly 400 persons under investigation for COVID-19 in New Orleans. They reviewed the patients’ chest X-rays along with concurrent reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction virus tests. Using well-documented COVID-19 imaging patterns, two experienced radiologists categorized each chest x-ray as characteristic, nonspecific, or negative in appearance for COVID-19.

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The radiologists found a characteristic chest X-ray appearance is highly specific (96.6%) and has a high positive predictive value of 83.8% for SARS-CoV-2 infection in the setting of pandemic.

“This discovery is useful to aid in diagnosis in the setting of pandemic spread of COVID-19, especially when adequate testing is lacking,” said Smith.

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