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April 17, 2020

Covid-19 study review cautions against using chest CTs for diagnosis

By Chloe Kent

An open-access clinical perspective article in the American Journal of Roentgenology has cautioned against using computed tomography (CT) scans as a means by which to diagnose Covid-19.

Thus far, the radiology literature on Covid-19 pneumonia has consisted of limited retrospective studies that do not substantiate the use of CT as a diagnostic test for the disease.

The authors of the article stressed that this did not mean the studies were not valuable, and that CT scans can be an important first step in helping radiologists identify patients who may have COVID-19 in the appropriate clinical environment. However, they stressed that that test performance and management issues arise when inappropriate conclusions are drawn regarding the diagnostic performance of CT scans for Covid-19 by practicing clinicians, as they do not have comparable sensitivity or specificity to biological tests.

They said: “CT should be reserved for evaluation of complications of Covid-19 pneumonia or for assessment if alternative diagnoses are suspected.”

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