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In Frontiers in physiology

Background : COVID-19 pneumonia extension is assessed by computed tomography (CT) with the ratio between the volume of abnormal pulmonary opacities (PO) and CT-estimated lung volume (CTLV). CT-estimated lung weight (CTLW) also correlates with pneumonia severity. However, both CTLV and CTLW depend on demographic and anthropometric variables.

Purposes : To estimate the extent and severity of COVID-19 pneumonia adjusting the volume and weight of abnormal PO to the predicted CTLV (pCTLV) and CTLW (pCTLW), respectively, and to evaluate their possible association with clinical and radiological outcomes.

Methods : Chest CT from 103 COVID-19 and 86 healthy subjects were examined retrospectively. In controls, predictive equations for estimating pCTLV and pCTLW were assessed. COVID-19 pneumonia extent and severity were then defined as the ratio between the volume and the weight of abnormal PO expressed as a percentage of the pCTLV and pCTLW, respectively. A ROC analysis was used to test differential diagnosis ability of the proposed method in COVID-19 and controls. The degree of pneumonia extent and severity was assessed with Z-scores relative to the average volume and weight of PO in controls. Accordingly, COVID-19 patients were classified as with limited, moderate and diffuse pneumonia extent and as with mild, moderate and severe pneumonia severity.

Results : In controls, CTLV could be predicted by sex and height (adjusted R2 = 0.57; P < 0.001) while CTLW by age, sex, and height (adjusted R2 = 0.6; P < 0.001). The cutoff of 20% (AUC = 0.91, 95%CI 0.88-0.93) for pneumonia extent and of 50% (AUC = 0.91, 95%CI 0.89-0.92) for pneumonia severity were obtained. Pneumonia extent were better correlated when expressed as a percentage of the pCTLV and pCTLW (r = 0.85, P < 0.001), respectively. COVID-19 patients with diffuse and severe pneumonia at admission presented significantly higher CRP concentration, intra-hospital mortality, ICU stay and ventilatory support necessity, than those with moderate and limited/mild pneumonia. Moreover, pneumonia severity, but not extent, was positively and moderately correlated with age (r = 0.46) and CRP concentration (r = 0.44).

Conclusion : The proposed estimation of COVID-19 pneumonia extent and severity might be useful for clinical and radiological patient stratification.

Carvalho Alysson Roncally Silva, Guimarães Alan, Garcia Thiego de Souza Oliveira, Madeira Werberich Gabriel, Ceotto Victor Fraga, Bozza Fernando Augusto, Rodrigues Rosana Souza, Pinto Joana Sofia F, Schmitt Willian Rebouças, Zin Walter Araujo, França Manuela


COVID-19, CT-estimated lung volume, CT-estimated lung weight, computed tomography, deep learning