Remarkable vessel enlargement within lung consolidation in COVID-19 compared to AH1N1 pneumonia: A retrospective study in Italy

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Abstract

Purpose: To investigate the early CT findings in COVID-19 pneumonia as compared to influenza A virus H1N1 (AH1N1), with focus on vascular enlargement within consolidation or ground glass opacity (GGO) areas. Methods: 50 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia were retrospectively compared to 50 patients with AH1N1 pneumonia diagnosed during the 2009 pandemic. Two radiologists reviewed chest CT scans independently and blindly, with discordance resolved by consensus. Dilated or tortuous vessels within hyperdense lesions were recorded. Results: COVID-19 pneumonia presented with bilateral (96%), peripheral areas of GGO (22%), consolidation (4%) or combined GGO-consolidation (74%). The vascular enlargement sign in COVID-19 pneumonia was much more commonly present in COVID-19 (45/50, 90%) versus AH1N1 pneumonia (12/50, 24%) (p < 0.001). Vascular enlargement was more often present in lower lobes with a peripheral distribution. Conclusions: Vascular enlargement in consolidative/GGO areas may represent a reasonably common early CT marker in COVID-19 patients and is of uncertain etiology. Although speculative, theoretical mechanisms could potentially reflect acute inflammatory changes, pulmonary endothelial activation, or acute stasis. Further studies are necessary to verify specificity and to study if prognostic for clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere07112
JournalHeliyon
Volume7
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • AH1N1 influenza
  • Chest computed tomography
  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vascular enlargement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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