Chinese researchers release first pathology report for COVID-19
Updated 23:00, 02-Mar-2020
By She Jingwei

The first pathology report of a dead patient with novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) was published on the Journal of Forensic Medicine on Friday.

The report indicates that this patient's lungs remain the main organ affected by the disease, suggesting that the novel coronavirus mainly caused inflammatory reactions, characterized by deep airway and alveolar injuries.

It's worth noting that the report, which is mainly based on the visual observation results of a case of systematic autopsy, is a general observation report and it doesn't include the further detection and analysis of pathological tissue sections under a more detailed microscope.

This 85-year-old male patient was sent to the hospital with a sudden cerebral infarction in January and had symptoms of pneumonia infection after 10 days. He was then diagnosed with COVID-19 and died from respiratory failure.


Professor Liu Liang and his team are responsible for this anatomical study. Liu had repeatedly asked for COVID-19 casualties to be autopsied, because previously anatomical analysis of a dead SARS patient's body pointed to a virus, proving to be helpful in fighting the disease. 

Similar post-mortem examination was also helpful this time, with Liu saying they found fluids inside the lungs. The systemic anatomy of this case shows that pulmonary fibrosis and consolidation are not as serious as with SARS, but the exudative response was more obvious.

According to previous media reports, many COVID-19 patients have been found to have myocardial injury while some even died from acute fulminant myocarditis. Therefore, there was the question of whether the novel coronavirus would cause damages to other organs.

So far, evidence of damage on other organs like kidneys and spleen is not enough and needs further research.

As one of the authors of the report, Liu is chairman of Association of Forensic Medicine in Hubei, as well as professor in the Department of Forensic Medicine at Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Liu and his team believe the research can provide strong support for clinical treatment and diagnosis of COVID-19.