Objective: To explore the clinical application value of chest CT quantitative pulmonary inflammation index (PII) in the evaluation of the course and treatment outcome of COVID-19 pneumonia.
Methods: One hundred and eighteen patients with COVID-19 pneumonia diagnosed by RT-PCR were analyzed retrospectively. The correlation between chest CT PII, clinical symptoms and laboratory examinations during the entire hospitalization period was compared.
Results: The average age of the patients was 46.0 ± 15 (range: 1-74) years. Of the 118 patients, 62 are male (52.5%) and 56 are female (47.5%). Among them, 116 patients recovered and were discharged, 2 patients died, and the median length of hospital stay was 22 (range: 9-41) days. On admission, 76.3% of the patients presented with fever, and the laboratory studies showed a decrease in lymphocyte (LYM) count and an increase in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels, C-reactive protein(CRP) levels , and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). Within the studies’ chest CTs, the median number of involved lung lobes was 4 (range: 0-5) and the median number of involved lung segments was 9 (range 0-20). The left lower lobe and the right lower lobe were the areas most likely to be involved (89.0% and 83.9%), and 84.7% of the patients had inflammatory changes in both lungs. The main manifestations on chest CT were ground glass opacities (31.4%), ground glass opacities and consolidation (20.3%), ground glass opacities and reticular patterns (32.2%), mixed type (13.6%), and white lungs (1.7%); common accompanying signs included linear opacities (55.9%), air bronchograms (46.6%), thick small vessel shadows (36.4%), and pleural hypertrophy (13.6%). The chest CT at discharge showed complete absorption of lesions in 19 cases (16.1%), but not in the remaining 99 cases. Lesions remained in a median of 3 lung lobes (range: 0-5). Residual lesions remained in a median of 5 lung segments (range: 0-20). The residual lesions mainly presented as ground glass opacities (61.0%), and the main accompanying sign was linear opacities (59.3%). Based on chest CT, the median maximum PII of lungs was 30.0% (range: 0-97.5%), and the median PII after discharge in the patients excluding the two deaths was 12.5% (range: 0-53.0%). PII was significantly negatively correlated with the LYM count and significantly positively correlated with body temperature, LDH, CRP, and ESR. There was no significant correlation between the PII and the white blood cell count, but the grade of PII correlated well with the clinical classification.
Conclusion: PII can be used to monitor the severity and the treatment outcome of COVID-19 pneumonia, provide help for clinical classification, assist in treatment plan adjustments and aid assessments for discharge.