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No Permanent Lung Damage Observed After COVID-19 Recovery

No difference seen between lung parenchyma of COVID-19 survivors and controls in specimens from unrelated elective lung resections

doctor listening to lungs

MONDAY, Aug. 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- No postacute histopathologic changes indicative of permanent pulmonary damage were observed among a small sample of COVID-19 survivors who have recovered and become asymptomatic, according to a study published online July 31 in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Ashley Diaz, from the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago, and colleagues compared 11 adult COVID-19 survivors (four asymptomatic, four moderate, and three severe infections) who had recovered and subsequently underwent unrelated elective lung resection for indeterminate lung nodules or lung cancer with an age- and procedure-matched control group who never contracted COVID-19 (five patients) and an end-stage COVID-19 group (three patients). Lung parenchyma was examined, focusing on airways, alveoli, interstitium, and vasculature.

The COVID-19 survivors underwent elective lung resection at a median 68.5 days after COVID-19 diagnosis; 75 percent underwent lobectomy. Across all compartments examined, the researchers observed no differences between the lung parenchyma of COVID-19 survivors and controls on histopathologic examination. Fibrotic diffuse alveolar damage with intra-alveolar macrophages, organizing pneumonia, and focal interstitial emphysema were seen among patients in the end-stage COVID-19 group.

"COVID-19 survivors, who are asymptomatic at time of surgical evaluation, can undergo lung resection safely without added risk, and their histopathological findings, in the otherwise benign lung parenchyma, are indistinguishable from controls," the authors write. "This suggests that asymptomatic, moderate, or severe acute COVID-19 courses can have a full recovery."

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