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Coronavirus Test Swab Snaps Off In Woman's Lung After Being Inserted Into Breathing Tube

Coronavirus Test Swab Snaps Off In Woman's Lung After Being Inserted Into Breathing Tube

A swab that was being used to test for coronavirus snapped off inside a woman's lung after being inserted into a breathing tube in her neck. You can watch footage of its discovery below, if you really want to:

The unnamed patient, aged 51, was undergoing a routine test for the virus in hospital at the time of the accident, and had recently had tracheostomy surgery, during which a tube is cut into the throat to help breathing instead of through the nose and mouth.

MailOnline reports that the woman was tested by a nurse who inserted the coronavirus test swab - usually taken up the nose and at the back of the throat - into the hole in her neck.

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The reasoning behind this was that the woman wasn't using her nose and mouth and therefore the virus would not be present there.

Credit: BMJ Case Journal/University Hospitals Leicester
Credit: BMJ Case Journal/University Hospitals Leicester

However, the swab - which is snapped off midway after use so that it can be inserted into a testing tube - ended up stuck in the woman's lung after breaking in the neck hole.

Dr Mohammed Hussain, who was tasked with dealing with the issue that occurred at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: "This case highlights the need for clear guidance on how samples for SARS-CoV-2 are taken from patients with front of neck airways and the potential pitfalls involved."

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The end of the swab was completely invisible on both X-rays and CT scans, but the doctors could clearly see some swelling on the woman's right lung.

Credit: BMJ Case Journal/University Hospitals Leicester
Credit: BMJ Case Journal/University Hospitals Leicester

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After inserting a camera into the hole to investigate, they found the swab lodged into her airway and were eventually able to get it out by performing a bronchoscopy.

The medical professionals are now seeking to raise awareness among their peers of the dangers of swabs breaking off during use on vulnerable patients, particularly those who have had a tracheostomy.

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In this case, the woman had recently had surgery to remove a fragment of her skull for another unrelated illness and had to have the tracheostomy put in to aid her breathing.

She was given a Covid-19 test before being discharged to a care home, which is standard practice to prevent cross-contamination between the two settings.

Credit: BMJ Case Journal/University Hospitals Leicester
Credit: BMJ Case Journal/University Hospitals Leicester

In the journal BMJ Case Reports, doctors wrote: "During the sampling, part of the swab stylet snapped and was inadvertently dropped through the tracheostomy site.

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"Initial CT imaging was reported as showing no signs of a foreign body but some inflammatory changes [swelling].

"Bedside flexible endoscopy through the tracheostomy site revealed the swab in a right lobar bronchus. This was subsequently removed by flexible bronchoscopy."

Dr Hussain added: "The above case highlights the potential dangers of taking a mucosal swab from a tracheostomy site.

"Heightened concerns around SARS-CoV-2 and wearing full personal protective equipment increase the probability of human error occurring."

Featured Image Credit: BMJ Case Journal/University Hospitals Leicester

Topics: UK News, COVID-19-Negative, Weird, Health

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Tom Wood

Tom Wood is a LADbible journalist and Twin Peaks enthusiast. Despite having a career in football cut short by a chronic lack of talent, he managed to obtain degrees from both the University of London and Salford. According to his French teacher, at the weekends he mostly likes to play football and go to the park with his brother. Contact Tom on [email protected]