The association between clinical laboratory data and chest CT findings explains disease severity in a large Italian cohort of COVID-19 patients
BACKGROUND Laboratory data and computed tomography (CT) have been used during the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly to determine patient prognosis and guide clinical management. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between CT findings and laboratory data in a cohort of COVID-19 patients.
METHODS This was an observational cross-sectional study including consecutive patients presenting to the Reggio Emilia (Italy) province emergency rooms for suspected COVID-19 for one month during the outbreak peak, who underwent chest CT scan and laboratory testing at presentation and resulted positive for SARS-CoV-2.
RESULTS Included were 866 patients. Total leukocytes, neutrophils, C-reactive protein (CRP), creatinine, AST, ALT and LDH increase with worsening parenchymal involvement; an increase in platelets was appreciable with the highest burden of lung involvement. A decrease in lymphocyte counts paralleled worsening parenchymal extension, along with reduced arterial oxygen partial pressure and saturation. After correcting for parenchymal extension, ground-glass opacities were associated with reduced platelets and increased procalcitonin, consolidation with increased CRP and reduced oxygen saturation.
CONCLUSIONS Pulmonary lesions induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection were associated with raised inflammatory response, impaired gas exchange and end-organ damage. These data suggest that lung lesions probably exert a central role in COVID-19 pathogenesis and clinical presentation.