Many With Breathing Issues Despite Not Having Any Lung Inflammation Had Reduced Lung Volumes!
: A recent study conducted by the Academic Diagnostic Imaging Division at Sapienza University of Rome has shed light on a concerning aspect of long COVID - the persistent respiratory symptoms experienced by individuals even in the absence of lung inflammation. The research utilized multidetector CT scans to quantitatively analyze lung volumes in patients with mild respiratory symptoms and negative chest CT results for inflammatory findings.
Summary of the main findings regarding lung volume comparison
The study focused on individuals between 18 and 40 years old who had previously tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and experienced long COVID symptoms. These patients underwent chest CT scans three to six months after testing negative for the virus. They were compared to a control group of individuals who had undergone chest CT scans before the spread of COVID-19 in Italy, between January 2018 and December 2019.
The analysis included 154 CT scans, with 77 post-COVID patients and 77 non-COVID patients. Both groups were matched for age, sex, and other factors known to affect lung capacity, such as obesity, thoracic malformations, and smoking habits. The results revealed statistically significant differences in lung volumes between the post-COVID and non-COVID groups.
Compared to individuals who had never contracted COVID-19, those in the post-COVID group exhibited a mean reduction of approximately 10% in total lung volume, as well as in the volumes of the right and left lungs. This reduction was evident even in cases where no macroscopic inflammatory findings were observed on the chest CT scans.
The findings of this study challenge the assumption that young individuals with mild respiratory symptoms and no detectable inflammatory lung changes are simply experiencing anxiety. Instead, the research suggests that subtle fibrotic changes not visible through standard chest CT imaging may be responsible for the observed reduction in lung volumes.
Long COVID, characterized by persistent symptoms lasting months after the acute phase of the infection, has been recognized as a complex condition affecting individuals of all age groups and disease severity levels. Common symptoms include fatigue, dyspnea, cognitive impairments, and various other persistent ailments. While the long-term effects of COVID-19 have been extensively studied in severe cases, the impact on young patients and the underlying biology of long COVID remain relatively unknown.
Previous research has shown that patients in the early convalescence phase often experience impaired lung function and reduced respiratory muscle strength.
Although clinical tests can help identify lung impairment in long COVID patients, chest CT imaging plays a crucial role in the diagnosis and monitoring of COVID-19 cases.
However, it is important to note that many patients with long COVID do not exhibit macroscopic lung abnormalities on c
hest CT scans, particularly young individuals with mild respiratory symptoms.
Past Medical News
reports have however noted that Post COVID-19 individuals might aside from pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis, also develop premature aging of the lung tissues and also air-trappings.
The current study introduces quantitative chest CT analysis as a valuable tool for evaluating lung volumes in patients recovering from COVID-19. By identifying a reduction in lung volume in individuals with long COVID and no inflammatory findings, the research contributes to a better understanding of the potential long-term effects of the virus.
While the exact significance of reduced lung volumes in long COVID patients remains to be determined, these findings emphasize the need for further research on the long-term consequences of COVID-19 infection. As the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to circulate, monitoring the health of individuals after their recovery is crucial. By exploring the intricate details of long COVID, we can gain valuable insights into the potential long-term effects of this novel virus and provide better care for those affected.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Tomography.
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