China is diagnosing coronavirus patients by looking for 'ground glass' in their lungs. Take a look at the CT scans.
- Chinese authorities have started diagnosing coronavirus cases in the Hubei province via CT scans.
- The scans aren't as thorough as a blood tests, but doctors in Wuhan, where the virus originated, are reportedly running short on test kits.
- To diagnose the virus, physicians look for white patches called "ground glass," which signal fluid in the lungs.
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Authorities in China's Hubei province reported a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases on Thursday: 14,840 new cases.
It was most reported in a single day since the outbreak began in December. The Hubei Health Commission also reported that an additional 242 people had died.
But the virus didn't suddenly becoming more aggressive - instead, Hubei officials said they changed the way they count cases. Rather than relying only on blood tests, which are in limited supply and can take take days to yield results, officials have started including diagnoses made via CT scans in their daily case totals.
The scans are considered less thorough than a blood test, but the New York Times reported last week that doctors in Wuhan, where the virus originated, are running short on test kits.
Patients diagnosed via CT scan - what Chinese officials call "clinically diagnosed cases" - present symptoms of the virus in their lungs, but either haven't been lab-tested or died before the test could be administered.
The latest figures suggest the virus has killed at least 1,370 people and infected more than 60,000 in total. That number is expected to rise significantly as CT scans capture more cases in the coming days.
Here's what physicians look for in the scans.
Normal lungs should appear black on a CT scan.
But coronavirus scans tend to have white patches that radiologists refer to as "ground glass opacity."
An analysis of nearly 140 coronavirus scans said patches of ground glass on both lungs were a hallmark of the virus.
Many patients tended to worsen quickly. Their ground-glass patches became more pronounced after a few days.
Scans from a 27-year-old woman who worked in Wuhan showed a "ground-glass halo" — white patches that surround a small nodule.
Some patients also exhibited a "crazy-paving pattern," which refers to little lines inside the ground-glass patches.
A Shanghai study also identified a mesh-like pattern called "reticulation," which is visible in this scan of a 75-year-old man.
The Shanghai researchers ultimately determined that three components are needed to diagnose a coronavirus patient: fever and/or cough, ground-glass patches in both lungs, and a history of exposure to individuals from Wuhan.
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