Keith Mortman, MD, FACS, FCCP, director of thoracic surgery at George Washington University Hospital, has released a video that allows the viewer to “fly” through a 3D rendering of the lungs of a patient with COVID-19. The video was developed from CR scans of the patient, a generally healthy 59-year-old man with high blood pressure. He remains in the ICU on respirator.

Areas marked in yellow on the video represent infected and inflamed parts of the lung, Mortman said. When the lungs encounter a viral infection, the organ will start to seal the virus off. From the scan, it is clear that the damage isn’t localized to a single area, but instead covers massive swaths of both lungs, showing how rapidly and aggressively the infection can take hold, even in younger patients. A patient with healthy lungs would have no yellow on the scan, he said.

The images suggest that the words to describe common symptoms — coughing and shortness of breath — can’t really capture the impact of the virus on the body.

In some people, Mortman said, the damage will be irreversible — making it imperative that Americans heed advice on social distancing and self-isolation. 

“I want people to see this and understand what this can do,” Mortman said. “People need to take this seriously.”

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