Incidence and follow-up of persistent lung perfusion abnormalities as a result of suspected air trapping or microthrombosis in non-hospitalised COVID-19 patients during the early half of the pandemic – experience in a tertiary institution in South Afr by O Evbuomwan

CONCLUSION: We confirm that persistent ventilation and perfusion abnormalities suspicious of small airway disease and pulmonary microthrombosis can occur in non-hospitalised patients diagnosed with a milder form of COVID-19. Our study also shows that these complications remain present even 1 year after the initial diagnosis of COVID-19.

S Afr Med J. 2022 Nov 1;112(11):850-854. doi: 10.7196/SAMJ.2022.v112i11.16578.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Available clinical data have revealed that COVID-19 is associated with a risk of pulmonary microthrombosis and small airway disease, especially in patients with severe disease. These patients present with persistent pulmonary symptoms after recovery, with ventilation and perfusion abnormalities present on several imaging modalities. Few data are available on the occurrence of this complication in patients who earlier presented with a milder form of COVID-19, and their long-term follow-up.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the incidence of persistent lung perfusion abnormalities as a result of suspected air trapping or microthrombosis in non-hospitalised patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The long-term follow-up of these patients will also be investigated.

METHODS: This was a retrospective study conducted at the nuclear medicine department of Universitas Academic Hospital, Bloemfontein. We reviewed the studies of 78 non-hospitalised patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection referred to our department from July 2020 to June 2021 for a perfusion-only single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT/CT) study or a ventilation perfusion (VQ) SPECT/CT study. All 78 patients were suspected of having pulmonary embolism, and had raised D-dimer levels, with persistent, worsening or new onset of cardiopulmonary symptoms after the diagnosis of COVID-19.

RESULTS: Seventy-eight patients were studied. The median (interquartile range) age was 45 (41 – 58) years and the majority (88.5%) were females. Twenty-two (28.2%) of these patients had matching VQ defects with mosaic attenuation on CT. All 9 of the patients who had follow-up studies had abnormalities that persisted, even after 1 year.

CONCLUSION: We confirm that persistent ventilation and perfusion abnormalities suspicious of small airway disease and pulmonary microthrombosis can occur in non-hospitalised patients diagnosed with a milder form of COVID-19. Our study also shows that these complications remain present even 1 year after the initial diagnosis of COVID-19.

PMID:36420721 | DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2022.v112i11.16578

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