Approximately 1 hour following the intravenous (IV) injection, a single-scan, whole-body acquisition was conducted on a Biograph mCT FlowTM scanner.
Figure 1: Axial CT and PET/CT images show multiple bilateral consolidations of ground-glass opacities.
In consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these incidental findings were deemed suspicious and the patient was referred for COVID-19 testing.
Test results confirmed the patient was positive for COVID-19.
PET/CT imaging is not indicated for the diagnosis of COVID-19. Only in-vitro diagnostic testing is currently the definitive method to diagnose COVID-19.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease that primarily affects the lower respiratory tract and can remain asymptomatic or cause several flu-like symptoms. The spread of this disease predominantly occurs through the viral transmission of respiratory droplets when in close physical contact with another person. In severe cases, COVID-19 may cause interstitial pneumonia, which can evolve into acute respiratory distress syndrome, and subsequently, death.2
Chest imaging remains an integral component of the work-up and staging of COVID-19, especially when assessing the patient for complications or disease progression. In April 2020, The Fleischner Society released a multinational consensus statement about the role of chest CT in patient management during the COVID-19 pandemic where they assess that imaging is indicated in patients highly suspected of COVID-19 with moderate-to-severe clinical features and a high pre-test probability of disease, as well as in patients with COVID-19 with a worsening respiratory status.3
The appearance of COVID-19 on a chest CT has been commonly observed in bilateral lungs as GGOs that are defined as hazy opacities with preservation of the underlying vascular and bronchial architecture and bronchovascular thickening.4
In early phases, single or multiple GGOs or nodules may appear. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued guidance on chest CT and protocol dose optimization. Protocols with faster scanning should be preferred due to the high potential of motion artifacts from patients that are coughing and experiencing shortness of breath. The evaluation of most patients with COVID-19 infection consists of automatic or fixed kV less than or equal to 100, high pitch, fast rotation speed, lung kernel, and 2-3 mm for soft-tissue evaluation.5
Although PET/CT is not currently indicated for the evaluation of COVID-19, according to Fields et al, numerous reports have noted incidental localization of radiotracer in parenchymal lesions. These findings are consistent with data from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-CoV cohorts, which suggest an ability to detect incidental localizations in subjects without clinical signs of disease.4
The value of PET/CT during the COVID-19 pandemic is within the scope of incidental detection of asymptomatic patients, which includes the incidental detection of sub-clinical disease burden that may play a role in curbing asymptomatic viral spread.4
According to Fields et al, the utilization of PET/CT in the “early detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients who receive nuclear medicine imaging for unrelated clinical indications, such as the evaluation and staging of malignancy, is essential for providing prompt anticipatory care to vulnerable populations at high risk for rapid clinical decompensation.”4 Additionally, Kalra et al indicates ”PET/CT may be valuable for the overall assessment of COVID-19, as with disease progression, damage can occur to the kidneys and other organs, such as the heart, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and bone marrow.”6
Early diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia is not only crucial for appropriate patient management but also to help ensure essential post-exposure precautions are implemented for department and hospital staff as well as others who have been in contact with the patient.
Scanner: Biograph mCT Flow 64
Imaging software: syngo®.via
11.2 mCi (414 MBq)
The outcomes achieved by the Siemens Healthineers customers described herein were achieved in the customer’s unique setting. Since there is no
“typical” hospital and many variables exist (eg, hospital size, case mix, level of IT adoption) there can be no guarantee that others will achieve
the same results.