(TMU) — A disturbing new video shows the way that CoViD-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, damages the lungs of patients who were showing no symptoms, illustrating just how dangerous even mild cases of the disease can be.
George Washington University Hospital in Washington DC created the 360-degree imaging using computed tomography (CT) scans of the lungs of a 59-year-old man. The man was generally healthy, save for a history of high blood pressure.
He was asymptomatic until mere days before the scans were taken.
The yellow areas on both of the man’s lungs indicate where infection and inflammation is present. Scans of healthy lungs would contain no yellow. The video shows how the yellowing is spread throughout the lungs rather than in a localized area, indicating that the disease spreads rapidly.
Dr. Keith Mortman, chief of thoracic surgery at George Washington University Hospital, said:
“This is not a 70, 80-year-old immunosuppressed, diabetic patient. Other than high blood pressure, he has no other significant medical issues. This is a guy who’s minding his own business and gets it … if we were to repeat the 360VR images now, that is one week later, there is a chance that the infection and inflammatory process could be worse.”
As the lungs battle infection and inflammation, they effectively seal off those areas making it increasingly more difficult to send much needed oxygen into the bloodstream. It also rends the lungs less able to filter out carbon dioxide resulting in respiratory issues.
Dr. Mortman told CNN that the 59-year-old is now hooked up to a ventilator on its highest setting along with another machine tasked with oxygenating his blood.
“For these patients who essentially present in progressive respiratory failure, the damage to the lungs is rapid and widespread. Unfortunately, once damaged to his degree, the lungs can take a long time to heal. For approximately 2 to 4 percent of patients with CoViD-19, the damage is irreversible and they will succumb to the disease.”
As the coronavirus makes it way across the United States and hospitals fill with patients suffering from CoViD-19, more is being learned about the disease, how it attacks the lungs, and eventually kills infected patients.
Unfortunately, using scans such as this along with a host of anecdotal evidence is revealing that there may be a long-term impact on the bodies—most notably the lungs—of those who are infected with and recover from CoViD-19.
We need something better for risk stratification. CT scans for everyone? Japan is doing this for every patient even before doing the #COVID19 test
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) March 27, 2020
It may be years before we truly realize the impact of the this unprecedented global pandemic. But what is clear now is that additional diagnostic tests are needed in addition to early intervention, both of which appear to be hard to come by.
“I want people to see this and understand what this can do. People need to take this seriously,” Dr. Mortman said.
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