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Complications Associated With Nasopharyngeal COVID-19 Testing: An Analysis of the MAUDE Database and Literature Review.



Nasopharyngeal swab testing, which has greatly increased in utilization due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is generally safe and well-tolerated, although it may be rarely associated with adverse events.


Publicly reported adverse events associated with nasopharyngeal COVID-19 testing within the Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE) database and the published literature were queried.


A total of 129 adverse events were reported, including 66 from the MAUDE database and 63 from literature review. The most common complications were swab fracture resulting in retained foreign body (47%), followed by epistaxis (17%), and headache (11%). Seven (12%) of the reported retained foreign body cases required removal under general anesthesia, while 1 (5%) of the epistaxis cases required surgical intervention. The most serious adverse event was meningitis following cerebrospinal fluid leak.


Patients and healthcare providers should be aware of the potential risks associated with testing, with attention to ensuring proper technique, and be prepared to recognize and manage adverse events.

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