We are now seeing many more unvaccinated patients with COVID infections. These patients are often hospitalized because of a significant reduction in their oxygen levels. The images from a CT scan of the chests of these patients most often show large, extensive patches of congestion called infiltrates. If these infected patients survive, they often have pulmonary problems that persist. When patients present themselves to the office having been discharged from the hospital following a severe COVID infection, one of the first things we do is look at the CT scans from the hospital and then obtain another CT scan to see if anything has changed. Often times, the patient will need additional follow-up CT scans to determine if the initial findings have resolved.
Several patients have presented with scarring in the lung tissue following their infection, and we are not the only ones who have noticed these findings. A group in London has noted these findings, and it appears a new study sponsored by a large pharmaceutical company and a major medical center is looking at patients with these findings as well. The concern is whether the COVID infection has simply damaged the lung tissue, or has it triggered a progressive scarring process which will continue to damage the lungs over time.
There are now medications to help slow the progression of some scarring diseases. Could they be helpful in these cases? That, along with other questions about the progression of disease, may be answered by the study. Stay tuned.