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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Atypical Chest Computed Tomography Finding of Predominant Interstitial Thickening in a Patient with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pneumonia

Challenging differential diagnosis

Jaclyn Yee Cheun Lau, Hau Wei Khoo, Terrence Chi Hong Hui, Gregory Jon Leng Kaw, Cher Heng Tan

Singapore Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore, Singapore

Am J Case Rep 2020; 21:e926781

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.926781

Available online: 2020-08-14

Published: 2020-09-21


BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and is associated with severe respiratory disease. There are extensive publications on the chest computed tomography (CT) findings of COVID-19 pneumonia, with ground-glass opacities (GGO) and mixed GGO and consolidation being the most common findings. Those with interstitial thickening manifesting as reticular opacities typically show superimposed ground-glass opacities, giving a crazy-paving pattern.
CASE REPORT: We report the case of a 77-year-old man with a background of asthma-chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) overlap syndrome (ACOS) who presented with progressive cough and shortness of breath for 2 days. He was in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. Reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis of a nasopharyngeal swab was positive for SARS-CoV-2. The initial chest radiograph was negative for lung consolidation and ground-glass opacities. During admission, he had worsening shortness of breath with desaturation, prompting a chest CT examination, which was performed on day 14 of illness. The chest CT revealed an atypical finding of predominant focal subpleural interstitial thickening in the right lower lobe. He was provided supportive treatment along with steroid and antibiotics. He recovered well and subsequently tested negative for 2 consecutive swabs. He was discharged after 34 days.
CONCLUSIONS: Interstitial thickening or reticular pattern on CT has been described in COVID-19 pneumonia, but largely in association with ground-glass opacity or consolidation. This case demonstrates an atypical predominance of interstitial thickening on chest CT in COVID-19 pneumonia on day 14 of illness, which is the expected time of greatest severity of the disease.

Keywords: Coronavirus, COVID-19, multidetector computed tomography