INTRODUCTION: Data on pathological changes in COVID-19 are scarce. The aim of this study was to describe the histopathological and virological findings of postmortem biopsies, and the existing clinical correlations, in people who died of COVID-19.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed postmortem needle core biopsies of the chest in 11 people who died of COVID-19 pneumonia. Tissue examination was done by light microscopy and real-time polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR).
RESULTS: The age of the patients were between 61 to 94 years. Of the 11 postmortem chest biopsies, lung tissue was obtained in 8, myocardium tissue in 7, and liver tissue in 5. Histologically of lung, the main findings pertaining to the lung were diffuse alveolar damage in proliferative phase (n = 4, 50%), diffuse alveolar damage in exudative and proliferative phase (n = 3, 37.5%), diffuse alveolar damage in exudative (n=1; 12.5%) and acute pneumonia (n = 2, 25%). Necrotising pneumonia, acute fibrinous and organising pneumonia, and neutrophils were detected in one sample each (12.5%). Another case presented myocarditis. RT-PCR showed RNA of SARS-CoV-2 in 7 of the 8 lung samples (87.5%), 2 of the 7 myocardial tissue samples (28.6%), and 1 of the 5 liver tissue samples (20%).
CONCLUSION: The postmortem examinations show diffuse alveolar damage, as well as acute or necrotising pneumonia. RT-PCR of SARS-CoV-2 was positive in most lung samples.