Pulmonary Sequelae at 4 Months After COVID-19 Infection: A Single-Centre Experience of a COVID Follow-Up Service

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Rebecca C Robey
  • Katie Kemp
  • Philip Hayton
  • Dalia Mudawi
  • Melanie Greaves
  • Veronica Yioe
  • Pilar Rivera-Ortega
  • Cristina Avram


INTRODUCTION: At the end of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 78 million known survivors were recorded. The long-term pulmonary sequelae of COVID-19 remain unknown.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective analysis of a post-COVID follow-up service to estimate the burden of persistent pulmonary morbidity in hospitalised COVID survivors.

RESULTS: A total of 221 patients were followed-up: 44 intensive care unit (ICU) and 177 ward patients. Further investigations were planned as per British Thoracic Society Guidelines: For all ICU patients (n = 44) and for 38 of 177 (21%) ward-based patients who had persistent symptoms and/or persistent radiographic changes on CXR at their initial 8-week follow-up visit. In the ward-based cohort, statistically significant associations with persistent symptoms were being an ex- or current smoker, having pre-existing diabetes, and having a longer length of stay. In patients requiring further investigations, pulmonary function tests (PFTs; n = 67) at an average of 15 weeks post-discharge showed abnormalities in at least one PFT parameter in 79% (equating to 24% of the entire cohort). The most common abnormality was an abnormal diffusion capacity of carbon monoxide (TLCO), highest in the ICU cohort (64% ICU vs. 38% non-ICU). TLCO correlated negatively with length of stay and with maximum inspired FiO2 in the patient group as a whole. In ICU patients, TLCO correlated negatively with maximum inspired positive airway pressure. Computed tomography scans (n = 72) at an average of 18 weeks post-discharge showed evidence of persistent ground glass opacities in 44% and fibrosis in 21% (equating to 7% of the entire cohort).

CONCLUSION: Our data add to the growing evidence that there will be pulmonary sequelae in a proportion of COVID survivors, providing some insight into what may become a significant chronic global health problem.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4505-4519
Number of pages15
JournalAdvances in Therapy
Issue number8
Early online date18 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021