Abdominal Imaging Findings in Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 Patients: A Retrospective Observational Study.

Publication date: Jul 01, 2023

Coronavirus disease 2019 (CO-VID-19) is known to predominantly present with respiratory symptoms; however, a significant proportion of patients present with digestive symptoms. These symptoms are often non-specific and as such prompt the treating physician to request further imaging evaluation. Understanding the abdominal imaging findings in COVID-19 and their possible associations is thus crucial to direct patient care and prevent misdiagnosis. The aim of this study was to describe abdominal imaging findings on both computed tomography (CT) and ultrasound scans in cases with positive COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests performed at our institution, and also, to evaluate the reason for requesting these imaging studies, and to correlate these findings with patients’ demographics. A retrospective observational study was conducted at Salmaniya Medical Complex, Bahrain, between February 2021 and March 2022. We examined the abdominal CT and ultrasound data for PCR-confirmed COVID-19 patients. The demographic data, reason for requesting imaging and imaging findings were gathered by reviewing the hospital’s electronic health records and picture archiving and communicating system (PACS). The study included 97 patients, with the majority being male (57. 7%). The most common reason for imaging was abdominal pain, as seen in over half of the patients (60. 8%), followed by deranged liver enzymes (18. 6%). More than 75% of imaging studies showed positive abdominal findings with the majority (19. 6%) showing non-specific inflammatory findings, followed by gallbladder disease (13. 4%). The CT studies were more likely to yield positive findings as compared to ultrasound, with only 7 (11. 3%) CT scans yielding normal findings (χ = 14. 65; P < 0. 01). To our knowledge, the research conducted on the abdominal manifestations of COVID-19 is still limited, especially in our region. Our study showed that there are variable presentations of abdominal organ involvement in COVID-19 cases, and as such more data is required to direct choice of imaging study, protocol, and interpretation of findings to better guide patient management.

Concepts Keywords
Coronavirus abdominal pain
Enzymes covid-19
February gall blader disease
Misdiagnosis gastro-intestinal
Ultrasound ultra-sonography


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
disease MESH gallbladder disease
disease VO organ
disease VO protocol
drug DRUGBANK Tropicamide

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