Analysis of the involvement of the thyroid gland using computed tomography in patients with suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection: a retrospective study

Akkoyunlu, Y.
Kalaycioglu, B.
Yurtsever, I
Eren, A.
Bayram, M.
Mert, A.
Akkoyunlu, M. E.
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Objective: SARS-CoV-2 primarily infects the respiratory tract and leads to severe pneumonia by binding to the ACE-2 receptor. The virus can also interact with ACE-2 receptors expressed in other tissues as in thyroid. This study predicted the complications involving the thyroid in patients with suspected SARS-CoV-2.

Patients and methods: Patients with suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection between March 11, 2020-May 31, 2020 were retrospectively evaluated. Sixty-nine patients who were radiologically diagnosed as COVID-19 according to thoracic CT and had previously performed thoracic CT before November 2019 were included in the study according to the exclusion and inclusion criteria. Age and gender-matched controls (No. 69) were selected with normal thoracic CT whose PCR tests were also negative. Thyroid densities of participants were calculated and compared from the previous and current thoracic CTs. Results were also compared with the control group.

Results: Participants were composed of 69 patients (39 male, mean age 64.35 years). Thyroid densities were significantly decreased from 89HU to 76HU for whole gland, from 88HU to 76HU for right lobes and from 87.5HU to 75.5HU for left lobes at current thoracic CTs performed during COVID-19 (p<0.001, p<0.001, p<0.001 respectively). The decrease in densities of the whole thyroid gland, both left and right lobes, was correlated with mortality (p<0.001). The changes in thyroid densities were not correlated with age nor gender. The decreases in HU values of thyroid densities for whole gland, left and right lobes, were correlated with mortality (p<0.001, p<0.001, and p<0.001 respectively).

Conclusions: COVID-19 is a multi-systemic disease that threatens vital organs, including the thyroid. Future studies are needed to investigate the association between SARS-CoV-2 and other complications.

SARS-CoV-2, Computed tomography, Thyroid, COVID-19
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