What is the meaning of HRCT?
HRCT stands for High-Resolution Computed Tomography. This imaging procedure uses X-rays to generate high-resolution images of the lungs and the airways. To conduct a chest HRCT means using the technique of computer tomography to obtain a series of thin-slice chest images and processing them to create a clear, spatial image of the internal anatomy of the lungs and its associated airways.
An HRCT scan of the chest is used in the diagnosis and monitoring of lung diseases. However, not all patients with respiratory illnesses are advised to take an HRCT thorax test. While it allows for the easy diagnosis of acute and chronic conditions of the lungs and airway, doctors would examine a patient’s medical history thoroughly to determine if they indeed require this test.
The most common conditions for being prescribed an HRCT scan of the chest are:
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
- Diagnosis of pneumoconiosis, like asbestosis
- Inflammation of the lungs or the airways
- Drug reactions
- Injury to the lung tissue
HRCT chest scan for COVID-19
- COVID-19 induced viral pneumonia pandemic has now raged across the world. Though RT-PCR is the gold standard for diagnosis of COVID-19, limitations include limited availability, long turn-around times, and false-negative reports. HRCT is an excellent adjunct for initial diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia in both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals in addition to the role of prognostic indicator for COVID-19 pneumonia. Purpose of HRCT chest scan for COVID-19
An HRCT chest scan for COVID-19 patients is recommended as it gives a clearer idea of the severity and extent of viral infection in the body. This test is recommended for those who are showing typical symptoms but have a negative RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) or RT-PCR test report.
- What does an HRCT chest scan for COVID-19 patients look like?
An HRCT chest scan in a COVID-19-positive individual with lung involvement shows ground glass-like opacities in the lungs. This is a characteristic when the viral load has reached and infected the lungs. The extent of these lesions also denotes the spread and severity of infection. An HRCT chest scan is also recommended for COVID-19 patients who experience symptoms like chest congestion.
How to interpret an HRCT test result?
To interpret an HRCT test result, CORAD (COVID-19 Reporting and Data System) scores and CT scores are measured. In the CORAD scoring system, numbers 1 to 6 are allotted to patients based on the severity of the disease, where 1 indicates negative for COVID-19, a score of 2–4 indicates a suspected case of viral involvement, and 5-6 means a classic case of COVID-19. Patients showing ground glass-like opacities in the lungs are said to be at a high risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19.
- Is an HRCT chest scan expensive?
No, an HRCT chest scan is affordable, at a cost similar to that of a regular CT chest scan. In most cities, an HRCT test would cost around INR 3,000.
An HRCT chest scan for COVID-19 cases has proven to be very beneficial, more so in cases where newer variants of the coronavirus are causing damage to the lungs in the early stages of infection. While in many cases this test is used as a supplementary test, in an equally large number of cases, it is instrumental in determining the severity of COVID-19 and the right treatment plan.