How to Obtain a Nasal Mid-turbinate (NMT) Swab for COVID-19

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Case description

While demand for COVID-19 testing increases, facilities must adapt methods to accommodate variable equipment, staffing, and supplies. The nasal mid-turbinate technique offers flexibility for use of larger swabs, reduced penetration into the nares, and high sensitivity for diagnosis of viral illness.

The patient tilts their head back slightly and closes their eyes. The technician places their non-dominant hand behind the patient’s head for stabilization. Holding the swab like a pencil closer to its mid-shaft, the technician inserts it into the right nostril approximately 2-2.5 cm from the swab tip, angling the swab up and out, or superolaterally. This way the swab reaches the roof of the mid-portion of the lower nasal turbinate, near the middle meatus. Once inserted, the swab is rotated for 5 seconds in this location. The technician avoids rotating the swab medially along the nasal septum, thereby preventing discomfort or bleeding. The procedure is repeated in the opposite nostril using the same swab.

Video by John Hopkins Medicine

tags: covid-19 nasal swab


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