Radiologists Describe Coronavirus Effect on the Lungs

What radiologists should know about the outbreak of new respiratory illness

On Dec. 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) learned of several cases of a respiratory illness clinically resembling viral pneumonia and manifesting as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The newly discovered virus emerging from Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China, was temporarily named “novel coronavirus” (2019-nCoV). It is now known officially as COVID-19. This new coronavirus belongs to a family of viruses that include Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

The outbreak is escalating quickly, with hundreds of thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported globally. Early disease recognition is critical not only for prompt treatment, but also for patient isolation and effective public health containment and response.

RSNA has gathered peer-reviewed cases of COVID-19 to provide the global radiology community with a free diagnostic resource to help prevent the spread of this outbreak.

RSNA Resources

Coronavirus Fig. B color
Images in a 41-year-old woman who presented with fever and positive polymerase chain reaction assay for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Three representative axial thin-section chest CT images show multifocal ground glass opacities without consolidation. Three-dimensional volume-rendered reconstruction shows the distribution of the ground-glass opacities (arrows). See also the three-dimensional movie.

WHO Information

The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is still not fully clear. Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. This is more common in people with cardiopulmonary disease, people with weakened immune systems, infants and older adults. Learn more about the symptoms associated with COVID-19.

WHO has provided information and guidance about the outbreak, including FAQs, situation reports, research updates and technical guidance.