Researchers have found that Covid-19 may be diagnosed on the same emergency scans intended to diagnose stroke.
The findings published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology, have important implications in the management of patients presenting with suspected stroke through early identification of Covid-19.
In the study, the research team from King’s College London in the UK, said the emergency scans captured images of the top of the lungs where a fluffiness known as ‘ground-glass pacification’ allowed Covid-19 to be diagnosed.
For the findings, 225 patients were examined from three London Hyper-Acute Stroke Units. The emergency stroke scan consisted of computed tomography (CT) of the head and neck blood vessels.
The researchers said the results show that when the team saw these changes in the top of the lungs during the emergency scan, they were able to reliably and accurately diagnose Covid-19 and the changes also predicted increased mortality.
“This is particularly relevant given the limitations of currently available Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing as it takes time to complete the test and sometimes it is inaccurate," said study author Tom Booth.
“Additionally, our data have prognostic information given the increased mortality in those with lung changes shown in our cohort," Booth added.
According to the researchers, these are useful results because the changes are simple for radiologists and other doctors to see. This is “free information" from a scan intended for another purpose yet extremely valuable.
“Primarily, the findings allow earlier selection of the appropriate level of personal protective equipment (PPE) and attendant staff numbers, triage to appropriate inpatient ward settings, self-isolation and contact tracing," the authors noted.