Do These Images Show Normal Lungs Alongside COVID-19 Infected Ones?

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A Kenyan tweep shared the images below (the tweet has since been deleted) claiming they show what normal lungs vs. COVID-19 infected lungs look like. Both images appear to be of CT-scans.

Background

COVID-19 can cause lung complications such as pneumonia and, in the most severe cases, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Sepsis, another possible complication of COVID-19, can also cause lasting harm to the lungs and other organs.

Medical imaging has been in use in helping diagnose the virus. A computerized tomography scan (CT scan) uses computers and rotating X-ray machines to create cross-sectional images of the body. These images provide more detailed information than normal X-ray images. They can show the soft tissues, blood vessels, and bones in various parts of the body.

Verification

A reverse image search of both images shows that one Dr Samuel Girgis, MD, shared the same images in a tweet dated March 19 2020. His account is verified with a following of over 20,000. He mentions that the infected lung shows group ‘glass opacities’.

A search for the name Samuel Girgis reveals that he is an ENT otolaryngologist (physicians trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat) based in Hinsdale, Illinois, and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area. He has been in practice for more than 20 years.

The CT-scan image of the one presented as normal lungs in the claim matches the one given by the radiopaedia website.

The other CT-scan presented as the COVID-19 infected lungs appears in an article by Business Insider dated February 2020. It is titled:

China is diagnosing coronavirus patients by looking for ‘ground-glass’ in their lungs. Take a look at the CT scans.

According to the article, coronavirus scans tend to have white patches that radiologists refer to as ‘ground-glass opacity’. Dr Samuel alluded to the same to in his tweet above.

Ground-glass opacities are abnormal findings on a CT scan of the lungs. They are hazy areas that do not obscure the underlying structures of the lung, such as the bronchial airways and blood vessels. They are found in people with various lung conditions and have been seen in people with COVID-19.

The CDC, however, advises that clinicians considering use of chest CT scans for diagnosis or management of COVID-19 patients should consider whether such imaging will change clinical management. They recommend that CT should not be used to screen for COVID-19, or as a first-line test to diagnose COVID-19, and that it should be used sparingly and reserved for hospitalized, symptomatic patients with specific clinical indications for CT.

Verdict

The CT-scan images shared online do show normal lungs and those infected with COVID-19 making the claim, TRUE.

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Peris Gachahi

Peris Gachahi is a reporter at Africa Uncensored.She is passionate about human interest stories told through in-depth documentaries, data stories and digital storytelling.