COVID long haulers: New lung-scanning technology helps diagnose, treat those with lingering symptoms

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) — An estimated 100 million Americans have had COVID-19.

For most, especially those who have been vaccinated, the illness means a few days of aches, pains and fatigue.

But for some, the symptoms just don’t go away.

They are called COVID long haulers.

And now a new scanning technology is helping doctors diagnose and treat those with long COVID.

Amy Dutrisac is one of those COVID long haulers who benefited from the new technology.

She and her family all came down with COVID. But her daughter and her husband started to feel better within a few days.

Not Amy.

“I had no energy,” she says. “My lungs were aching, I had a horrible cough. It was scary.”

Amy was one of the first to undergo a new FDA-cleared four-dimensional scan of her lungs. It’s called four-dimensional because it adds the element of time, showing how the lungs move as the patient breathes. It also provides a range of other advanced diagnostic data.

“It actually can measure air coming from your upper lung on the right, lower lung on the right, upper and left lower lung,” said Dr. Ray Casciari, a pulmonary specialist with Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Orange.

The XV technology uses fluoroscopy, which is available in most hospitals, but the new software algorithms convert the scans, allowing doctors to see defects caused by long COVID.

With diagnostic help from the advanced scans, Dutrisac has undergone successful treatments.

She’s now breathing easy and free from all of her symptoms.

“I honestly don’t know what would’ve happened to me if I hadn’t had the scan,” she said.

Because there’s very little radiation and the cost is relatively low – about $500 per scan – the scan can be repeated several times.

Patients who are not treated successfully for long COVID could see a lifetime of respiratory problems and even the development of conditions like adult onset asthma.

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