Chest X-rays are used to diagnose respiratory illnesses, and they're one of the most commonly performed X-ray procedures. Because COVID-19 can spread to the lungs and cause respiratory complications, doctors may be inclined to use chest X-rays to help them diagnose potential coronavirus patients.
However, according to a study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, doctors should be wary of relying on chest X-rays for COVID-19 diagnoses. After reviewing 630 chest X-rays of confirmed and symptomatic COVID-19 patients, the research team behind this study found that more than half of the chest X-rays looked normal — and a vast majority looked either normal or only mildly abnormal.
"Doctors should not be reassured by a negative chest X-ray," said lead researcher Michael Weinstock, according to the press release about the study.
"This study reinforces what we've learned from our colleagues outside of the United States that the majority of patients with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and minimal evidence of disease on chest X-ray," added Matthew Exline, associate professor in the department of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine.