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Cureus ; 14(11): e31493, 2022 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2203297


Introduction Studies have reported similar clinical, biochemical, and radiological features between real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)-positive and RT-PCR-negative patients. Therefore, the present study aims to assess differences in RT-PCR-positive versus RT-PCR-negative patients' characteristics. Methods We prospectively included 70 consecutive patients with typical coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-like clinical features who were either RT-PCR-positive or negative, requiring admission to the intensive care unit. The patients were classified into positive and negative RT-PCR groups and evaluated for clinical features, comorbidities, laboratory findings, and radiologic features. Results Fifty-seven point one percent (57.1%; 40/70) were RT-PCR positive, and 42.9% (30/70) were RT-PCR negative patients. The respiratory rate was higher among negative patients (P = 0.02), whereas the mean duration of fever was longer (3.34 vs 2.5; P = 0.022) among positive patients. At presentation, RT-PCR-negative patients had lower saturation of peripheral oxygen (SpO2) (near significant P = 0.058). Evaluation of co-morbidities revealed no differences. The neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio (NLR) (4.57 vs 6.52; P = 0.048), C-reactive protein (CRP) (9.97 vs 22.7; P = 0.007), and serum ferritin (158 vs 248.52; P = 0.010) were higher in patients who tested negative for RT-PCR. Thrombocytopenia (2.42 vs 1.76; P = 0.009), D-dimer levels (408.91 vs 123.06; P = 0.03), and interleukin (IL-6) levels (219.3 vs 80.81; P = 0.04) were significantly elevated among RT-PCR positive patients. The percentage of lung involvement in negative cases was 42.29+/-22.78 vs 36.21+/-21.8 in positive cases (P=0.23). The CT severity score was similar in both cohorts. Conclusion Both RT-PCR-positive and negative patients have similar clinical, biochemical, and radiological features. Considering that we are amidst a pandemic, it is advisable to have a similar approach irrespective of the RT-PCR report and triage and isolate accordingly. We recommend an RT-PCR-negative intensive care unit (ICU) ward and that the treating physician take a call on the management with a holistic approach driven clinically by the laboratory findings and helped by radiological findings. Stressing only on the RT-PCR report for management can be counterproductive.