Review Article

Imaging Manifestations of Lung Injury During the COVID-19 Outbreak: What Have We Learned?

Anat Ilivitzki, Bar Rinnot, and Luda Glozman


Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) is a pandemic infectious disease caused by a novel coronavirus. Infection can result in a wide range of clinical outcomes, from an asymptomatic condition to severe bilateral pneumonia and life-threatening conditions. Diagnosis is based on the combination of a history of exposure, clinical presentation, and real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays. In endemic areas, imaging tests including computed tomography (CT), chest X-ray (CXR), and ultrasound (US) have been included in the diagnostic workup. Multiple and peripheral areas of parenchymal injury is the hallmark of COVID-19 lung infection, seen as ground-glass opacification and consolidation on CT, as hazy opacities on CXR, and as multiple B-lines and subpleural consolidations on US. Of these modalities, CT has the best sensitivity and specificity, while CXR has moderate sensitivity and unknown specificity. Both CT and CXR involve ionizing radiation, increase the risk of cross-infection, and require a long sterilization time. Ultrasound is the only modality used by clinicians. Early reports have shown promising results, comparable to CT. With high availability, the lowest risk of cross-infection, and a rapid sterilization process, US may potentially become the primary imaging tool for COVID-19 pulmonary injury. Lung US training programs are needed to provide clinicians with the ability to better implement this technique.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2020;11(3):e0024