A Texas trauma surgeon says it’s rare that X-rays from any of her COVID-19 patients come back without dense scarring. Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall tweeted that, “Post-COVID lungs look worse than any type of terrible smoker’s lung we’ve ever seen. And they collapse. And they clot off. And the shortness of breath lingers on… & on… & on.”
“Everyone’s just so worried about the mortality thing and that’s terrible and it’s awful,” she told CBS Dallas. “But man, for all the survivors and the people who have tested positive this is — it’s going to be a problem.”
She’s treated thousands of patients since March.
Bankhead-Kendall, an assistant professor of surgery with Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, says patients who’ve had COVID-19 symptoms show a severe chest X-ray every time, and those who were asymptomatic show a severe chest X-ray 70 to 80% of the time.
“There are still people who say ‘I’m fine. I don’t have any issues,’ and you pull up their chest X-ray and they absolutely have a bad chest X-ray,” she said.
In this photo of a normal lung, smoker’s lung and a COVID-19 lung that Dr. Bankhead-Kendall shared with CBS Dallas, the healthy lungs are clean with a lot of black, which is mainly air. In the smoker’s lung, white lines are indicative of scarring and congestion — while the COVID lung is filled with white.
“You’ll either see a lot of that white, dense scarring or you’ll see it throughout the entire lung. Even you’re not feeling problems now the fact that that’s on your chest X-ray — it sure is indicative of you possibly having problems later on,” Bankhead-Kendall pointed out.
She said it’s too early to know the extent of COVID-19’s impact on your body or if the scarring will heal, but it’s important that if you’re experiencing shortness of breath after your COVID-19 goes away, you stay in touch with your primary care doctor.
She adds, “There is no long-term implication of a vaccine that could ever be as bad as the long-term implications of COVID.”