Study Looks at Extent of Residual Lung Abnormalities After COVID-19 Hospitalization

Posthospitalization prevalence of residual lung abnormalities estimated at 11.7 percent in sensitivity analyses
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FRIDAY, Dec. 2, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Residual lung abnormalities are estimated in up to about 11.7 percent of patients discharged following COVID-19-related hospitalization, according to a study published online Dec. 2 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Iain Stewart, Ph.D., from Imperial College London, and colleagues estimated the prevalence of residual lung abnormalities in people hospitalized with COVID-19 based on risk strata. The percentage of residual lung abnormalities (ground glass opacities and reticulations) was scored on thoracic computed tomography (CT) scans. Risk factors in linked CT were estimated, and risk strata were generated.

The interim cohort included 3,700 people. The researchers found that 79.6 percent of the 209 individuals with linked CTs had >10 percent involvement of residual lung abnormalities. Abnormal chest X-ray, percent predicted diffusion capacity across the lung for carbon monoxide <80 percent, and severe admission requiring ventilation support were identified as risk factors (risk ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 1.21 [1.05 to 1.40], 1.25 [1.00 to 1.56], and 1.27 [1.07 to 1.55], respectively). A moderate to very high risk for residual lung abnormalities was classified in 7.8 percent of the remaining 3,491 people; posthospitalization prevalence was estimated at 8.5 percent and increased to 11.7 percent in a sensitivity analysis.

"The major implication of these findings is that a substantial number of people discharged from a COVID hospitalization may also have fibrotic abnormalities in their lungs," Stewart said in a statement. "These results should help concentrate efforts to closely follow at-risk patients. This follow-up should include repeat radiological imaging and lung function testing."

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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