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Background: A high incidence of thromboembolic phenomena has been widely reported in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia. There is, however, a paucity of data detailing the incidence and characteristics of pulmonary emboli (PE) in COVID-19 patients in the South African setting.
Objectives: To describe the incidence and characteristics of PE confirmed by CT pulmonary angiogram (CTPA) in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia admitted to a tertiary hospital in the Western Cape, South Africa.
Methods: This was a retrospective-, descriptive study of all adult patients with COVID-19 pneumonia confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) undergoing CTPA for suspected PE while admitted to Groote Schuur Hospital. The study period was from 01 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.
Results: The study cohort consisted of 116 patients, 59% being female, of whom 29% were pregnant or in the postpartum period. The median age for both genders combined was 49.5 years. The overall incidence of PE was 19%, with 20% in our subset of pregnant and postpartum patients. The majority (64%) of PE’s were reported as being segmental in anatomical location.
Conclusion: The noteworthy cohort included patients with pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB), HIV as well as pregnant and postpartum patients. The overall incidence of PE was 19% with no significant differences in demographics, comorbidities or D-dimer levels between patients with or without PE. The importance of a high clinical index of suspicion together with the role of CTPA in diagnosing PE in hospitalised COVID-19 patients is emphasised.