Can 1st and 6th month pulmonary function test follow-ups give an idea about the long-term respiratory effects of COVID-19 pneumonia?


Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira




SUMMARY OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to ascertain the long-term respiratory effects of COVID-19 pneumonia through pulmonary function tests in follow-ups at 1 and 6 months. METHODS: Our study was conducted between August 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021. At 1 month after discharge, follow-up evaluations, PFTs, and lung imaging were performed on patients aged above 18 years who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia. In the 6th month, the PFTs were repeated for those with pulmonary dysfunction. RESULTS: A total of 219 patients (mean age, 49±11.9 years) were included. Pathological PFT results were noted in the 1st month for 80 patients and in the 6th month for 46 (7 had obstructive disorder, 15 had restrictive disorder, and 28 had small airway obstruction) patients. A significant difference was found between abnormal PFT results and patient-described dyspnea in the 1st month of follow-up. The 6-month PFT values (especially those for forced vital capacity) were statistically significantly lower in the patients for whom imaging did not indicate complete radiological improvement at the 1-month follow-up. No statistically significant difference was found between the severity of the first computed tomography findings or clinical condition on emergency admission and pulmonary dysfunction (Pearson’s chi-square test, P=0.904; Fisher’s exact test, P=0.727). CONCLUSION: It is important that patients with COVID-19 pneumonia be followed up for at least 1 month after discharge to be monitored for potential long-term lung damage. PFTs should be administered to those in whom ongoing dyspnea, which started with COVID-19, and/or full recovery were not identified in pulmonary imaging.

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