The lung tissue of patients who have recovered from severe COVID-19 show good healing in most cases — despite drawn-out symptoms, according to a new study.

Investigators followed the progress of 126 patients who visited a COVID-19 aftercare clinic. A comprehensive health assessment was performed three months after recovery, including a CT scan, and a lung functional test. Residual lung tissue damage was limited to the type most often seen in patients who are treated in an intensive care unit, reported pulmonologist Bram van den Borst, M.D., Ph.D., of Radboud University Medical Center, in the Netherlands.

Patients commonly complained of fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pains at the time of the exam. Their daily functioning remained limited as well. But there was an overall trend toward healing, van de Borst said.

“The patterns we see in these patients show similarities with recovery after acute pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome, in which fluid accumulates in the lungs,” he explained. “Recovery from these conditions also generally takes a long time. It is encouraging to see that lungs after COVID-19 infections exhibit this level of recovery.”

Full findings were published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.