An alternative way to perform diagnostic nasopharyngeal swab for SARS-CoV-2 infection

Elina Matti, Roberta Lizzio, Giuseppe Spinozzi, Sara Ugolini, Eugenia Maiorano, Marco Benazzo, Fabio Pagella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On March 11, 2020, WHO has defined the novel coronavirus disease SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) outbreak as a pandemic and still today continues to affect much of the world. Among the reasons for the rapid spread of SARS–CoV-2 infection, there is not only the high transmissibility of the virus, but also the role of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic carriers. Therefore diagnostic testing is central to contain the global pandemic. Up to now real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)–based molecular assays for detecting SARSCoV-2 in respiratory specimens is the current reference standard for COVID-19 diagnosis. Nasopharyngeal swab is the preferred choice for SARS–CoV-2 testing; however is not always a free of complications procedure. In patients with severe coagulopathies or diseases such as HHT, the risk of nosebleeding may be high. As in all those conditions like advanced stage sinonasal neoplasms or unfavorable anatomical characteristics, the nasopharyngeal swab may not be feasible. This work reports a safe and effective procedure of nasopharyngeal swab collection for COVID-19 testing, through the transoral way, in patients with contraindication to perform it transnasally. The procedure proved feasible and well tolerated. The discomfort for the patient is comparable with the execution of an oropharyngeal swab without exposing him to additional complications. In selected cases, the procedure described represents a valid alternative to nasopharyngeal swab performed transnasally. In particular, it allows reaching the area with the highest diagnostic sensitivity. Moreover it can be performed by Otolaryngology and, with adequate training, also by non-specialist staff.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102828
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2021


  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 diagnosis
  • Nasopharyngeal swab
  • Oropharyngeal swab
  • RT-PCR
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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