To assess the association between interstitial lung abnormalities (ILAs) and worse outcome in patients affected by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) disease (COVID-19)-related pneumonia.
Materials and Methods:
The study included patients older than 18 years, who were admitted at the emergency department between February 29 and April 30, 2020 with findings of COVID-19 pneumonia at chest computed tomography (CT), with positive reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction nasal-pharyngeal swab for SARS-CoV-2, and with the availability of prepandemic chest CT. Prepandemic CTs were reviewed for the presence of ILAs, categorized as fibrotic in cases with associated architectural distortion, bronchiectasis, or honeycombing. Worse outcome was defined as intensive care unit (ICU) admission or death. Cox proportional hazards regression analysis was used to test the association between ICU admission/death and preexisting ILAs.
The study included 147 patients (median age 73 y old; 95% CIs: 71-76-y old; 29% females). On prepandemic CTs, ILA were identified in 33/147 (22%) of the patients, 63% of which were fibrotic ILAs. Fibrotic ILAs were associated with higher risk of ICU admission or death in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia (hazard ratios: 2.73, 95% CIs: 1.50-4.97, P=0.001).
In patients affected by COVID-19 pneumonia, preexisting fibrotic ILAs were an independent predictor of worse prognosis, with a 2.7 times increased risk of ICU admission or death. Chest CT scans obtained before the diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia should be carefully reviewed for the presence and characterization of ILAs.