Radiol Med. 2022 Jun 15. doi: 10.1007/s11547-022-01504-6. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: To correlate in COVID-19 pneumonia CT-based semi-quantitative score of pulmonary involvement with high serum levels of KL-6, a biomarker of disease severity.
METHODS: Between March 28 to May 21, 2020, 196 patients with strong suspicion of SARS-CoV-2 were evaluated with RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2, chest CT scan and blood test, including KL-6 serum protein, in our Emergency Unit. The final population included only patients who underwent blood sampling for KL-6 within 5 days from CT scan (n = 63), including n = 37 COVID-19-positive patients and n = 26 with negative RT-PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 (control group). A semi-quantitative CT score was calculated based on the extent of lobar involvement (0:0%; 1, < 5%; 2:5-25%; 3:26-50%; 4:51-75%; 5, > 75%; range 0-5; global score 0-25).
RESULTS: CT score was significantly correlated with serum value of KL-6 (r = 27, p = 0.035). This correlation was also present in COVID-19 positive patients (r = 0.423, p = 0.009) and CT score median value was significantly higher in patients with high KL-6 value (> 400 U/mL; 12.00, IQR 5.00-18.00, p-value 0.027). In control group, no statistically significant correlation was found between CT score and KL-6 value and CT score was higher in patients with high KL-6, although this difference was not statistically significant (5.00, IQR:1.75-8.00 versus 3.50, IQR:2.00-6.50). “Crazy paving” at the right upper (n = 8; 61.5%) and middle lobe (n = 4; 30.8%) and “consolidation” at the middle lobe (n=5; 38.5%) were observed in COVID-19 group with a significant difference between patients with high KL-6 value.
CONCLUSION: CT score is highly correlated with KL-6 value in COVID-19 patients and might be beneficial to speed-up diagnostic workflow in symptomatic cases.