Radiologists at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans have found that a certain characteristic on chest X-rays has a high likelihood of determining an accurate COVID-19 diagnosis.

The radiologists evaluated almost 400 patients who were being assessed for possible COVID-19 infection. Using their chest X-rays and concurrent reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) virus tests, they looked for highly common COVID-19 imaging patterns. They then categorized each chest x-ray “characteristic, nonspecific, or negative,” for COVID-19. This organization method helped them determine that the COVID-19 characteristic is “highly specific” and can predict 83.8 percent of COVID-19 infections.

“The presence of patchy and/or confluent, band-like ground glass opacity or consolidation in a peripheral and mid-to-lower lung zone distribution on a chest radiograph is highly suggestive of SARS-CoV-2 infection and should be used in conjunction with clinical judgment to make a diagnosis,” said Bradley Spieler MD, Associate Professor of Diagnostic Radiology and Vice Chairman of Research at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine’s radiology department.

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