Preprint Brief Report Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Added Value of Chest CT in Suspected COVID-19: An Analysis of 239 Patients

Version 1 : Received: 10 May 2020 / Approved: 11 May 2020 / Online: 11 May 2020 (12:35:08 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.


Introduction: Clinicians have been struggling with the optimal diagnostic approach of patients with suspected COVID-19. We evaluated the added value of chest CT over RT-PCR alone. Methods: Consecutive adult patients with suspected COVID-19 presenting to the emergency department (Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam University Medical Centers, the Netherlands) from March 16th to April 16th were retrospectively included if they required hospital admission and underwent chest CT and RT-PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection. The CO-RADS classification was used to assess the radiological probability of COVID-19, where a score of 1-2 was considered as negative, 3 as indeterminate, and 4-5 as positive. CT results were stratified by initial RT-PCR results. For patients with a negative RT-PCR but a positive CT, serology or multidisciplinary discussion after clinical follow-up constituted the final diagnosis. Results: 258 patients with suspected COVID-19 were admitted, of which 239 were included because they had both CT and RT-PCR testing upon admission. Overall, 112 patients (46.9%) had a positive initial RT-PCR, and 14 (5.9%) had a positive repeat RT-PCR. Of 127 patients with a negative or indeterminate initial RT-PCR, 38 (29.9% [95%CI 21.3-39.3%]) had a positive CT. Of these, 13 had a positive RT-PCR upon repeat testing, and 5 had positive serology. The remaining 20 patients were assessed in a multidisciplinary consensus meeting, and for 13 it was concluded that COVID-19 was ‘very likely’. Of 112 patients with a positive initial RT-PCR result, CT was positive in 104 (92.9% [95%CI 89.3-97.5%]). Conclusion: In a high-prevalence emergency department setting, chest CT showed high probability of COVID-19 (CO-RADS 4-5) in 29.9% of patients with a negative or indeterminate initial RT-PCR result. As the majority of these patients had proven or ‘very likely’ COVID-19 after follow-up, we believe that CT helps in the identification of patients who should be admitted in isolation.


COVID-19; diagnostic accuracy; CT; RT-PCR


Medicine and Pharmacology, Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases

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