OAK BROOK, Ill. (April 7, 2020) — A multinational consensus statement from the Fleischner Society on the role of chest imaging in the management of patients with COVID-19 was jointly published today in the journals Radiology and Chest.
“We need to understand that conditions across the globe vary greatly. Our goal in developing this statement was to offer guidance that is sensitive to these differences and applicable broadly,” said Geoffrey D. Rubin, M.D., George B. Geller Professor of Cardiovascular Research, professor of radiology and bioengineering at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.
The statement represents the collective opinions and perspectives of thoracic radiology, pulmonology, intensive care, emergency medicine, laboratory medicine and infection control experts practicing in 10 countries, representative of the highest burden of COVID-19 worldwide.
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“The willingness of experts from around the world to pause from their care of patients to contribute their knowledge and experience toward this international consensus was inspiring,” Dr. Rubin said.
Chest CT and X-ray are key tools in the diagnosis and management of numerous respiratory ailments, but their role in the management of COVID-19 has not been considered within the context of many variables, including the severity of respiratory disease, pre-test probability, risk factors for disease progression, and critical resource constraints.
“The Fleischner statement was uniquely comprised of a multidisciplinary panel comprised principally of radiologists and pulmonologists from 10 countries with experience managing COVID-19 patients across a spectrum of healthcare environments,” said Radiology Editor David A. Bluemke, M.D.
The panel evaluated the utility of imaging within three scenarios representing varying risk factors, community conditions and resource constraints.
Fourteen key questions, corresponding to 11 decision points within the three scenarios and three additional clinical situations, were rated by the panel based upon the anticipated value of the information that thoracic imaging would be expected to provide. The results were aggregated, resulting in five main and three additional recommendations intended to guide medical practitioners in the use of chest X-ray and CT in the management of COVID-19.
The results suggested that imaging is not routinely indicated in asymptomatic individuals or patients with suspected COVID-19 and mild clinical symptoms. Use of chest imaging is indicated in patients with COVID-19 who have worsening respiratory status. Imaging is also indicated for patients with moderate to severe features of COVID-19 regardless of COVID-19 test results.