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Multicenter Study Examines Imaging of Patients with COVID-19 Infections


In a recently published study involving hospitalized patients with COVID-19, researchers compared chest CT findings of vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated patients.

Chest computed tomography (CT) findings of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 revealed that unvaccinated patients were significantly more likely to develop pneumonia in comparison to fully vaccinated patients, according to a new study.

The retrospective multicenter study, recently published in Radiology, involved 761 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 infections, including 587 unvaccinated patients, 127 partially unvaccinated patients and 47 fully vaccinated patients who had breakthrough infections. According to the study, 51 percent of the patients were women, and the mean patient age was 47. Chest CTs revealed pneumonia in 78 percent of unvaccinated patients, 70 percent of partially vaccinated patients and 41 percent of fully vaccinated patients.

“Patients with COVID-19 breakthrough infections had a higher proportion of CT scans without pneumonia compared to unvaccinated patients, and vaccination status was significantly associated with the need for supplemental oxygen and ICU admission,” wrote study co-author Yeon Joo Jeong, M.D., Ph.D, who is affiliated with the Department of Radiology and the Biomedical Research Institute at Pusan National University Hospital in Busan, South Korea, and colleagues.

The prolonged time to heal from pneumonia contributes to long COVID, according to an accompanying editorial by Mark L. Schiebler, M.D., and David A. Bluemke, M.D., Ph.D., who are affiliated with the Department of Radiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. Citing a separate study involving more than 3,700 patients with COVID-19, they noted that “90% had persistent pulmonary complaints seven months after their initial illness.”

“If seeing is believing, the visual evidence provided by (the authors of the new study) might even help to strengthen the hand of public health officials still working to overcome the problem of vaccine hesitancy. We can only hope,” wrote Drs. Schiebler and Bluemke.

Jeong and colleagues said their research provides comparable imaging and clinical characteristics of breakthrough COVID-19 infections that have not been clearly detailed in previous literature.

They conceded limitations with the study, including a small sample size of fully vaccinated patients and a lack of data on SARS-CoV-2 variants at the time of the study.

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