COVID-19 Evidence Alerts
from McMaster PLUSTM

Current best evidence for clinical care (more info)

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Diagnosis Thomas C, Naudin M, Tasu JP, et al. Efficacy of chest CT scan for COVID-19 diagnosis in a low prevalence and incidence region. Eur Radiol. 2021 Apr 19. pii: 10.1007/s00330-021-07863-4. doi: 10.1007/s00330-021-07863-4.

OBJECTIVES: Value of chest CT was mainly studied in area of high COVID-19 incidence. The aim of this study was therefore to evaluate chest CT performances to diagnose COVID-19 pneumonia with regard to RT-PCR as reference standard in a low incidence area.

METHODS: A survey was sent to radiology department in 4 hospitals in an administrative French region of weak disease prevalence (3.4%). Study design was approved by the local institutional review board and recorded on the website (NCT04339686). Written informed consent was waived due to retrospective anonymized data collection. Patients who underwent a RT-PCR and a chest CT scan within 48 h for COVID-19 pneumonia suspicion were consecutively included. Diagnostic accuracy including the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) of chest CT regarding RT-PCR as reference standard were calculated.

RESULTS: One hundred twenty-nine patients had abnormal chest CT findings compatible with a COVID-19 pneumonia (26%, 129/487). Among the 358 negative chest CT findings, 3% (10/358) were RT-PCR positive. Chest CT sensitivity, specificity, positive, and negative predictive value were respectively 87% (IC95: 85, 89; 69/79), 85% (IC95: 83, 87; 348/408), 53% (IC95: 50, 56; 69/129), and 97% (IC95: 95, 99; 348/358).

CONCLUSIONS: In a low prevalence area, chest CT scan is a good diagnostic tool to rule out COVID-19 infection among symptomatic suspected patients.

KEY POINTS: • In a low prevalence area (3.4% in the administrative area and 5.8% at mean in the study) chest CT sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing COVID-19 pneumonia were 87% and 85% respectively. • In patients with negative chest CT for COVID-19 pneumonia, the negative predictive value of COVID-19 infection was 97% (348/358 subjects). • Performance of CT was equivalent between the 4 centers participating to this study.

Discipline / Specialty Area Score
Hospital Doctor/Hospitalists
Internal Medicine
Infectious Disease
Emergency Medicine
Comments from MORE raters

Emergency Medicine rater

As an emergency physician, I find this a useful article, even if already known. The authors should check the first box of figure 1, 2021 is wrong.

Respirology/Pulmonology rater

Use of chest CT as diagnostic tool in low incidence Covid-19 in parts of France had good negative predictive value, but poor positive predictive value. With rapid PCR testing and clinical assessment, it's not clear that the chest CT adds much to management of Covid-19.