Few studies have systematically evaluated high-resolution CT (HRCT) imaging of the thorax 5 years after severe ARDS to determine the association between radiologic findings and functional disability. The primary aim of this study was to determine chest radiologic abnormalities at 5 years in survivors of severe ARDS from the University of Toronto ARDS cohort. The secondary aim was to determine the relationship between the observed radiologic abnormalities on HRCT scan and pulmonary symptoms, pulmonary function test abnormalities, and health-related quality of life at 5-year follow-up.
HRCT scans were obtained in 24 of 64 eligible patients. Three anatomically comparable levels were selected for scoring, and each level was divided into four quadrants. The extent and distribution of individual CT image patterns (ground glass opacification, intense parenchymal opacification, reticular pattern, and decreased attenuation) were also reported.
Eighteen patients (75%) had abnormal findings on HRCT imaging. These findings were minor and in the nondependent lung zones. No correlation was found between radiologic findings and patient symptoms, pulmonary function tests, 6-min walk distances, or heath-related quality of life measures.
Exercise and functional limitations experienced by survivors of severe ARDS are unlikely to be related to structural lung disease and may be more consistent with extrapulmonary muscle weakness.