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US doctors find new clues that could lead to quicker coronavirus diagnosis

Doctors turn their attention to CT scans to help diagnose the coronavirus.

PHOENIX — A leading team of doctors and medical researchers say they've found another way to help detect COVID-19. And those findings are especially timely considering health experts say they need more tests. 

As new cases of coronavirus emerge, Dr. Adam Bernheim, a Cardiothoracic Radiologist with Mount Sinai, said they've found something to help cut down on diagnosis wait times. 

“This is a new disease that we’re learning about for the first time within the medical community," Bernheim said. It's a new learning tool for physicians around the world. 

“One of the things we’re excited about here is that we can look at cat scan and look at clues to help distinguish between flu and coronavirus," Bernheim said.

Bernheim is part of the medical team that poured over hundreds of scans of patients with coronavirus in China. Their findings, he said, are attention grabbing for the medical community. 

“We were able to see spots in lungs in places and with shapes that we don’t ordinarily see with other pneumonias," Bernheim said. 

He says a normal chest CT scan shows a black chest filled with air and white lines for arteries or veins. When the lung is diseased, the picture changes. 

“We’re finding grey spots that develop into white spots, and they have a round shape and are centered around outer part of lung," Bernheim said. "That’s a very atypical pattern for other infections and other pneumonias.”

It's important new insight which can also help rule out patients who are concerned they might have the virus, according to Bernheim. He said it's also important to note the imaging is not effective right away. 

“CT scanning it turns out, is not as helpful in first two days because it could be falsely negative," he said. 

But once that initial period is over, Bernheim said doctors can use this tool to diagnose patients quicker, helping them to determine who should stay in isolation and how to best treat their symptoms. 

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