Lung perfusion assessment in children with long-COVID: A pilot study.

Pizzuto DA; Buonsenso D; Morello R; De Rose C; Valentini P; Fragano A; Baldi F; Di Giuda D;

Pediatric pulmonology [Pediatr Pulmonol] 2023 Apr 25.
Date of Electronic Publication: 2023 Apr 25.

Background: There is increasing evidence that chronic endotheliopathy can play a role in patients with Post-Covid Condition (PCC, or Long Covid) by affecting peripheral vascularization. This pilot study aimed at assessing lung perfusion in children with Long-COVID with 99m Tc-MAA SPECT/CT.
Materials and Methods: lung 99m Tc-MAA SPECT/CT was performed in children with Long-COVID and a pathological cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET). Intravenous injections were performed on patients in the supine position immediately before the planar scan according to the EANM guidelines for lung scintigraphy in children, followed by lung SPECT/CT acquisition. Reconstructed studies were visually analyzed.
Results: Clinical and biochemical data were collected during acute infection and follow-up in 14 children (6 females, mean age: 12.6 years) fulfilling Long-COVID diagnostic criteria and complaining of chronic fatigue and postexertional malaise after mild efforts, documented by CPET. Imaging results were compared with clinical scenarios during acute infection and follow-up. Six out of 14 (42.8%) children showed perfusion defects on 99m Tc-MAA SPECT/CT scan, without morphological alterations on coregistered CT.
Conclusions: This pilot investigation confirmed previous data suggesting that a small subgroup of children can develop lung perfusion defects after severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection. Larger cohort studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results, providing also a better understanding of which children may deserve this test and how to manage those with lung perfusion defects.