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Post-COVID lungs worse than the lungs of the worst smokers, says the surgeon

A Texas trauma surgeon says it is rare for X-rays from any of her COVID-19 patients to return without dense scarring. Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall tweeted that “Post-COVID lungs look worse than any horrible smoker’s lung we’ve ever seen. And they collapse. And they solidify. And shortness of breath stays on … and on … & on. “

“Everyone is just so worried about mortality, and it’s awful, 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 has been treating thousands of patients since March.

Bankhead-Kendall, an assistant professor of surgery at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, says patients who have had COVID-19 symptoms show a severe chest x-ray each 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 have no problems’ and you pull X-ray of the chest and they definitely have a bad X-ray of the chest,” she said.

In this picture of a normal lung, smoker’s lung and a COVID-19 lung, which Dr. Bankhead-Kendall shared with CBS Dallas, the healthy lungs are clean with a lot of black, which is mostly air. In the smoker’s lung, white lines are signs of scarring and congestion – while the COVID lung is filled with white.

Lubbock, trauma surgeon in Texas, Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall.

CBS Dallas

“You will either see a lot of the white, dense scarring, or you will see it throughout the lung. Even you do not feel problems now, the fact that it is on X-ray of the breast – it is definitely a sign you may have problems later , ”Bankhead-Kendall pointed out.

She said it is too early to know the extent of COVID-19’s impact on your body, or whether scarring will heal, but it is important that if you experience shortness of breath after your COVID-19 disappears, keep in touch with your primary care physician.

She adds: “There are no long-term implications of a vaccine that can ever be as bad as the long-term implications of COVID.”

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