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Typical CT findings of COVID-19 pneumonia in patients presenting with repetitive negative RT-PCR

  • Brogna, B.1
  • Bignardi, E.2
  • Brogna, C.3
  • Alberigo, M.1
  • Grappone, M.4
  • Megliola, A.1
  • Salvatore, P.1
  • Fontanella, G.5
  • Mazza, E.M.1
  • Musto, L.1, 6
  • 1 Radiology Unit, “Frangipane” Hospital, ASL Avellino, Via V. Emanuele, Ariano irpino, 83031 Avellino, Italy
  • 2 Radiology Unit, “Cotugno Hospital, Naples, Via Quagliariello 54, Naples, 80131, Italy
  • 3 Neuropsychiatric Unit ASL Avellino, Via Degli Imbimbo 10/12, 83100 Avellino, Italy
  • 4 Laboratory Department “Frangipane” Hospital, ASL Avellino, Via V. Emanuele, Ariano irpino, 83031, Italy
  • 5 Department of Radiology, Sacred Hear of Jesus Hospital- Fatebenefratelli, 82100, Benevento, Italy
  • 6 Radiology Unit, “Criscuoli” Hospital, ASL Avellino, Via Quadrivio, Sant’Angelo Dei Lombardi, 83054 Avellino, Italy
Published Article
Radiography (London, England : 1995)
The College of Radiographers. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Publication Date
Sep 19, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.radi.2020.09.012
PMID: 32998840
PMCID: PMC7501847
PubMed Central


Multiple polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is considered the gold standard diagnostic investigation for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, false negative multiple polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) results can be diagnostically challenging. We report three patients with history of fever and different clinical signs. During the height of the pandemic in Italy (March to May 2020), these patients underwent chest computed tomography (CT) scans that showed lung alterations typical of COVID-19 with multiple negative RT-PCR tests and positive serology for SARS-CoV-2. Two of the three patients showed residual pneumonia on CT after the onset of the first clinical signs. One patient presented with diarrhoea without respiratory symptoms. These cases suggest that in the COVID-19 pandemic period, to provide an earlier specific treatment in patients with positive serology, a chest CT scan can be useful in those presenting with a fever or a history of fever associated with persistent mild respiratory symptoms or with abdominal complaints despite repeated negative RT-PCR results.

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