The COVID-19 outbreak is overwhelming hospitals around the world, and radiologists are at the heart of the fray. In a letter to the British Medical Journal, four U.K. radiologists share their experiences.

We are in unprecedented territory. UK radiology departments are moving to “clean” and “covid” CT scanners, and the system is almost at breaking point even before the peak is upon us. NHS trusts have already been told to suspend all non-urgent elective surgery for three months. Those NHS Trusts that have been hit the worst are already cancelling elective imaging to create extra capacity. In contrast, many of those NHS trusts yet to experience the upsurge in cases of covid-19 are still scanning routine outpatients because there has not yet been a central direction to the contrary.

Radiologists now find themselves at the frontline of helping to manage the covid-19 outbreak. The chest x-ray (CXR) has emerged as the frontline diagnostic imaging test, in conjunction with clinical history and key blood markers: CRP and lymphopaenia. With PCR turnaround times lagging at 24-48 hours, these basic blood biomarkers have become the bedrock of covid-19 patient triage.

So, what have we learnt from our experience so far of providing radiology services during the covid-19 outbreak? 

Read more at BMJ.

Featured image: Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (blue) heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (yellow), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID integrated research facility in Fort Detrick, Md. Photo courtesy NIAID.