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Scientists looked at COVID-19 survivors who had asymptomatic, moderate or severe COVID-19 infections and also underwent unrelated elective lung operations (for example, to treat lung nodules or lung cancer) at some point after they recovered from COVID-19.
In all of the patients, benign lung tissue from around the nodules or tumors showed no detectable lasting lung damage that was directly linked to COVID-19.
"Since the start of the pandemic, a big question has been whether COVID-19 will have long-term or permanent damage on our lungs," said senior study author Dr. Zaid Abdelsattar, a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon at Loyola Medicine, in Maywood, Ill.
"This research provided us with the rare opportunity to study the asymptomatic survivors of COVID-19 and make observations to help us answer this question," he said in a Loyola news release.
Autopsies of deceased COVID-19 patients and studies of patients with end-stage lung disease from COVID-19 have found a range of serious lung problems, the researchers noted.
"Further research is still needed on why some patients recover completely, and others don't. Our study shows that if you contract COVID-19 and then completely recover clinically and on imaging, your lung tissues are also likely to have completely healed as well, without permanent damage," Abdelsattar said.
The study was published online recently in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
About 209.5 million people worldwide have contracted COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and there have been more than 4 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The American Lung Association has more on COVID-19.
SOURCE: Loyola Medicine, news release, Aug. 12, 2021
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