Sensitivity of Chest CT for COVID-19: Comparison to RT-PCR

24 Mar, 2020

In December 2019, an outbreak of unexplained pneumonia in Wuhan was caused by a new coronavirus infection named COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019). Noncontrast chest CT may be considered for early diagnosis of viral disease, although viral nucleic acid detection using real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) remains the standard of reference. Chung et al. reported that chest CT may be negative for viral pneumonia of COVID-19 at initial presentation (3/21 patients). Recently, Xie reported 5/167 (3%) patients who had negative RT-PCR for COVID-19 at initial presentation despite chest CT findings typical of viral pneumonia. The purpose of this study was to compare the sensitivity of chest CT and viral nucleic acid assay at initial patient presentation.

Our results support the use of chest CT for screening for COVD-19 for patients with clinical and epidemiologic features compatible with COVID-19 infection particularly when RT-PCR testing is negative.