High-Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) Test Report for Coronavirus
When should COVID-19 patients get an HRCT test report? What do the readings imply?
At a time when COVID cases are fast rising and a high proportion of false negatives being observed with RT-PCR nasal swab tests, many people are suffering from problems and suffering from serious symptoms. It is also being suspected that the mutant virus might be easily dodging the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, and hence, instead of going for retesting, suspected COVID patients are being advised to go for computed tomography (CT) scans.
The high demand for chest X-rays and HRCTs has aggressively shot up the prices and require these tests. Medical diagnostic chains and imaging labs are also seeing a heavy rush of people wanting to get the test done, which also, in a way, helps determine the seriousness of the disease. But who actually requires it? How do you determine the readings and how do you do that?
What is an HRCT report?
High-Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) tests are a different way of deciding the presence of the viral infection in the body, which is being done right now.
The chest scans are being increasingly ordered for patients at risk- those who are showing classic signs of the infection but get a negative COVID RT-PCR report (either because of faulty testing or premature incubation period).
While the normal PCR tests- RAT (Rapid Antigen Tests) and RT-PCR (Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction Tests) find out the viral presence by collecting samples from the nose and/or the throat, an HRCT test is a diagnostic tool that includes imaging of the lungs.
Right now, when it is being highly speculated that the new mutant viruses can damage lung function in the earliest of days, lung imaging tests also work to offer a more accurate representation of the seriousness and spread of the viral infection and prompt a person to the right course of treatment.
More precisely, an HRCT report showcases the presence of glass-like ground, opaque opacities in the lung cavities, which are an important marker of COVID seriousness. The ground glass markers signal involvement of the lungs and additionally, for COVID-19 patients, denote the seriousness as well as the likeliness of infection in the vital organs.
Apart from confirmation of the infection, HRCT scans are additionally requested by doctors or primary care physicians for COVID-19 patients who showcase early symptoms like congestion, along with classic, tell-tale, or mild COVID symptoms early on. It is also a helpful detector for those who have hidden medical problems, for example, respiratory infections.
How do you understand the readings? What do the scores imply?
The HRCT tests are generally interpreted via COVID-19 reporting and data system (CORAD) scores and measure of the CT score (which is different from the CT value detected in RT-PCR tests).
CORADS, which stands for COVID-19 Reporting and Data System decides the stage of infection and participation associated with the virus. COVID-19 Reporting and Data System (CORAD) scoring is done on the basis of 1 to 6, wherein one indicates a 'negative COVID' or normal lung function, scores 2 to 4 indicate suspected viral involvement, and a reading of 5 means classic COVID-19.
A person who has detectable ground opacities in the lungs is given a score of 6 and said to be at a higher risk of COVID seriousness. On this basis, additional respiratory tests and blood tests could also be done and treatment followed. A COVID-19 reporting and data system (CORAD) 6 score is also assigned to patients who test positive as per the RT-PCR report and complain of respiratory problems.
Apart from COVID-19 reporting and data system (CORAD), high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scans also seldom mention computed tomography (CT) seriousness score, which tells us about the actual lung involvement because of the infection. Different laboratories go by different readings, with most scores being considered between 1 to 40 and 1 to 25. A higher score generally represents greater lung involvement and high COVID seriousness.
Do all COVID patients require it?
The demand for high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scans has risen and shot up prices, along with the waiting time. That being said, not every COVID-19 patient requires it.
It provides a more precise detection of a spreading COVID infection in the body, a lot of people are immediately rushing through to get chest and lung scans done when they spot the first symptom and give polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests a miss.
While it might not be a necessary test for all COVID patients, it works to properly 'confirm' the infection and detect seriousness, which is being increasingly seen in cases being registered right now.
Earlier, computed tomography (CT) scans were only requested for patients who complained of symptomatic progression or did not see a respite in their symptoms. With complaints of lung involvement even in the pre-symptomatic phase, there can be some people who might require high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scans more. If a person, with symptoms and typical respiratory signs, tests negative on an RT-PCR test, a high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scan would be most helpful.
As for someone who tests positive on the routine test, a patient is advised to go get a high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scan towards the end of the first week of infection if there is no break in symptoms. It is suspected that the virus tends to impact the lower respiratory regions a week after the beginning, and hence, a chest scan would work accurately well.
Does it point out the severity and the need for hospitalization?
Now, while the tests do signal seriousness and infection stage of a vital organ like the lungs, not everybody who gets a 'high' score on high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) tests requires to be hospitalized.
Sometimes, patients with the mildest of symptoms could get their lungs involved during COVID, but could easily heal at home with due guidance and treatment. Injections, steroids, and steam inhalation therapies are also instructed for mild to moderate cases of infection. The requirement for hospitalization and certain lines of treatment might also depend on your pre-existing disease or case history. Hence, patients are instructed to follow the diligent medical course and remain in constant touch with the treating doctor or primary care physician during their recovery period.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from coronavirus, our expert providers at Post Covid Centers will take care of your health and help you recover.