Lung Abnormalities Depicted with Hyperpolarized Xenon MRI in Patients with Long COVID.
Grist JT., Collier GJ., Walters H., Kim M., Chen M., Abu Eid G., Laws A., Matthews V., Jacob K., Cross S., Eves A., Durant M., Mcintyre A., Thompson R., Schulte RF., Raman B., Robbins PA., Wild JM., Fraser E., Gleeson F.
Background Post-Covid-19 condition describes symptoms following COVID-19 infection after four weeks. Symptoms are wide-ranging but breathlessness is common. Purpose The purpose of this study was to determine whether the previously described lung abnormalities on Hp-XeMRI in post-hospitalised COVID-19 participants are also present in non-hospitalised participants with Post-Covid-19 condition. Methods In this prospective study, non-hospitalised Post-Covid-19 condition (NHLC) and post-hospitalised COVID-19 (PHC) participants were enrolled from 06/2020 to 08/2021. Participants had chest CT, hyperpolarized pulmonary 129Xenon MRI (Hp-XeMRI), pulmonary function tests, 1-minute sit-to-stand test and breathlessness questionnaires. Control subjects underwent HP-XeMRI only. CT scans were analysed for post COVID interstitial lung disease severity using a previously published scoring system, and Full-scale Airway Network (FAN) modelling. Analysis used group and pair-wise comparisons between participants and controls, and correlations between participant clinical and imaging data. Results A total of 11 NHLC (4:7 Male: Female, 44 ± 11 years, [37-50], (mean ± SD, [95% CI]) and 12 PHC (10:2, Male: Female, 58 ± 10 years, [52-64]) participants were included, with a significant difference in age between groups, p = 0.05. NHLC participants were 287 ± 79, [240-334] and PHC 143 ± 72, [105-190] days from infection, respectively. NHLC and PHC participants had normal or near normal CT scans (0.3/25 ± 0.6, [0-0.63] and 7/25 ± 5, [4-10], respectively). Gas transfer (DLco (%)) was different between NHLC and PHC participants (76 ± 8%, [73-83] vs 86 ± 8%, [80-91] respectively, p = 0.04) but there was no evidence of other differences in lung function. Red Blood Cell:Tissue Plasma (RBC:TP) mean was different between volunteers vs PHC (0.45 ± 0.07, [0.43-0.47] vs (0.31 ± 0.10, [0.24-0.37], respectively, p = 0.02) and volunteers vs NHLC (0.37 ± 0.10, [0.31-0.44], p = 0.03) participants, but not between NHLC and PHC participants (p = 0.26). FAN results did not correlate with DLco or Hp- XeMRI. Conclusion NHLC and PHC subjects showed Hp-XeMRI RBC:TP abnormalities, with NHLC participants demonstrating lower DLco than PHC participants despite having normal CT scans. See also the editorial by Parraga and Matheson.