Diagnostic Performance of Chest X-Ray for COVID-19 Pneumonia During the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic in Lombardy, Italy

Simone Schiaffino, Stefania Tritella, Andrea Cozzi, Serena Carriero, Lorenzo Blandi, Laurenzia Ferraris, Francesco Sardanelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chest x-ray (CXR) can play a role in diagnosing patients with suspected severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, but only few small-scale studies are available. We assessed the diagnostic performance of CXR in consecutive patients presenting at the emergency room at the Policlinico San Donato, Milan, Italy from February 24 to April 8, 2020 for suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection. The results of CXR were classified as positive or negative according to the original prospective radiologic reports. To overcome the limitations of reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) swab, especially oscillating sensitivity, we added the information obtained from phone calls to discharged patients with negative initial RT-PCR. Thus, we included 535 patients with concomitant CXR and RT-PCR on admission (aged 65±17 y; 340 males, 195 females), resulting in 408 RT-PCR positive and 127 negative patients at the composite reference standard. Original CXR reports showed an 89.0% sensitivity (95% confidence intervals [CI], 85.5%-91.8%), 60.6% specificity (95% CI, 51.6%-69.2%), 87.9% positive predictive value (95% CI, 84.4%-90.9%), and 63.1% negative predictive value (95% CI, 53.9%-71.7%). The adoption of CXR alongside RT-PCR to triage patients with suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection could foster a safe and efficient workflow, counteracting possible false negative RT-PCR results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)W105-W106
JournalJournal of Thoracic Imaging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections/diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Lung/diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral/diagnostic imaging
  • Radiography, Thoracic/methods
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS Virus
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/diagnostic imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Diagnostic Performance of Chest X-Ray for COVID-19 Pneumonia During the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic in Lombardy, Italy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this