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CT Scans Surpass X-Rays for Swine Flu: Study

In high-risk patients, scans better able to spot serious complications, researchers say

THURSDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that computed tomography (CT) scans are better than standard X-rays at detecting the severity of illness in patients with the H1N1 virus, known as swine flu.

Researchers examined seven patients infected with the virus and gave chest X-rays to all of them. Three of the patients also received CT scans.

The study results were released online Oct. 21 in advance of publication in the December print issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

"All patients with CT abnormalities showed abnormal findings on the corresponding chest X-rays," study author Dr. Amr M. Ajlan said in a news release from the American Roentgen Ray Society. "However, the extent of involvement was more diffuse and the distribution of disease was better characterized on CT."

"The strength of our study is that all CT scans performed showed a similar distribution of abnormalities, which might help physicians prospectively diagnose H1N1 using medical imaging," Ajlan said. "Most cases of H1N1 are mild and self-limited; however, high-risk patients are more likely to have severe complications. Our study suggests that CT is superior to standard chest X-rays and should be the imaging modality of choice in high-risk patients."

More information

Learn more about swine flu from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: American Roentgen Ray Society, news release, Oct. 21, 2009

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