Clinical, Radiological and Functional Outcomes in Patients With SARS-CoV-2 Pneumonia

A Prospective Observational Study

Pietro Gianella; Elia Rigamonti; Marco Marando; Adriana Tamburello; Lorenzo Grazioli Gauthier; Gianluca Argentieri; Carla Puligheddu; Alberto Pagnamenta; Marco Pons; Tanja Fusi-Schmidhauser


BMC Pulm Med. 2021;21(136) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: All over the world, SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia is causing a significant short-term morbidity and mortality, but the medium-term impact on lung function and quality of life of affected patients are still unknown.

Methods: In this prospective observational study, 39 patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia were recruited from a single COVID-19 hospital in Southern Switzerland. At three months patients underwent radiological and functional follow-up through CT scan, lung function tests, and 6 min walking test. Furthermore, quality of life was assessed through self-reported questionnaires.

Results: Among 39 patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia, 32 (82% of all participants) presented abnormalities in CT scan and 25 (64.1%) had lung function tests impairment at three months. Moreover, 31 patients (79.5%) reported a perception of poor health due to respiratory symptoms and all 39 patients showed an overall decreased quality of life.

Conclusions: Medium-term follow up at three months of patients diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia shows the persistence of abnormalities in CT scans, a significant functional impairment assessed by lung function tests and a decreased quality of life in affected patients. Further studies evaluating the long-term impact are warranted to guarantee an appropriate follow-up to patients recovering from SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia.


The severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality.[1] After three days, more than 75% of all infected patients have signs of viral interstitial pneumonia on chest CT scan.[2] Abnormalities in pulmonary function tests and radiological alterations were highlighted in patients affected by severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) between three to 24 months after discharge from hospital.[3–10] Since interstitial lung diseases and pulmonary vascular diseases are likely to be the most important respiratory complications, in a state-of-the-art review George PM et al. recently proposed a structured respiratory follow-up of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.[11] However, the medium-term functional and radiological outcomes in SARS-CoV-2 survivors are still unknown.