Lung scans for stroke patients could provide earlier COVID-1
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Computed tomography angiogram (CTA) scans may offer fast and early detection of COVID-19 in acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients, according to new research published today in Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

The study found that in addition to patient-reported COVID-19 symptoms, routine or standard care CTA scans were an accurate screening method for faster detection of COVID-19 since they include imaging of the upper portion of the lungs.

Researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of patients treated for AIS at three hospitals. A total of 57 patients who received a CTA scan within 24 hours of hospitalization for AIS were included in the study. Researchers used CTA scans to evaluate the lung apices for signs of COVID-19 pneumonia. They then analyzed the accuracy of using CTA scans for COVID-19 diagnosis alone as well as in combination with patient-reported symptoms, such as cough and/or shortness of breath.

“Every second counts when treating a person experiencing a stroke,” said lead author of the study. “Conducting a CTA is already part of the stroke management process, and these scans provide an opportunity to assess the lungs for signs suggestive of COVID-19. The team sought to determine if this already necessary scan could have a secondary use of identifying potential COVID-19 patients more quickly than a standard nasal swab COVID-19 test.”

The study defined confirmed COVID-19 positive cases from nasal swab PCR-test results, which are the standard required by the FDA for COVID-19 testing, and it can take several days for results. Of the 57 study participants, three were diagnosed with COVID-19 prior to the date when a nasal swab COVID-19 test was administered.

Researchers found that:

-- CTA scans in combination with patient feedback to COVID-19 symptom questions were able to diagnose COVID-19 with 83% accuracy before results were received from traditional nasal swab tests in AIS patients.

-- 30 of the 57 patients included in the study were COVID-19 positive.

-- 20 of the COVID-19 positive patients and 2 of the COVID-19 negative patients had findings highly suspicious for COVID-19 pneumonia on their CTA lung scans.

“In combination with symptoms, CTA scan analysis is relatively accurate in diagnosing COVID-19, even compared to the nasal swab test. Since this analysis is much faster and at no extra cost, we hope it could be incorporated as a rapid diagnosis tool for patients with acute stroke,” author said. “In addition, accurately diagnosing COVID-19 within hours, rather than the sometimes days wait-time to receive the results from nasal swab tests could help protect both patients and medical professionals.”

Source: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.030959
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What about the sensitivity rate
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