A coronavirus nasal swab test was pushed so far up a woman’s nose it caused brain fluid to leak, a study has revealed.
It is the first known case of its kind and highlights the importance on training patients and clinicians on how to carry out Covid-19 tests effectively and safely.
Medics discovered the woman in her 40s had a rare condition preventing her skull bones from closing properly, exposing a portion of brain tissue.
The patient went to a doctor after suffering from vomiting, a runny nose, a stiff neck, a headache, light sensitivity and a metallic taste in her mouth, according to the report published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery.
She told them she had recently had a coronavirus test ahead of a hernia operation and had developed her symptoms not long after the procedure.
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The patient was referred to the University of Iowa Hospitals where doctors found a growth in the middle of her right nasal cavity.
After draining it, they found the liquid contained a protein in cerebrospinal fluid, which is found in the brain and spine.
A brain scan revealed the patient had an encephalocele, a rare condition preventing bones in the skull from completely closing, leading to sac like protrusions of brain matter.
Further tests suggest she had the condition since at least 2017 but had gone undiagnosed.
Clinicians pointed out that she had nasal polyps taken out to years ago after developing a condition causing pressure to the brain.
Doctors said it was unlikely that the coronavirus swab test caused the encephalocele, but aggravated it enough to make the brain fluid start leaking.
The woman’s skull was repaired with surgery and she stayed in hospital to make sure any remaining fluid was safely drained and to check for any neurological side effects.
Nasal swab tests are the most common test for antigents, which show whether the virus is currently in your body.
For most people they cause a few seconds of unpleasantness, but others have experienced excruciating pain from them.
LA based throat surgeon Dr. Shawn Nasseri told Business Insider: ‘There is definitely a learning curve with the technique in terms of how much resistance one pushes against in the nose and therefore “hurts” the patient.
‘It is similar to playing the “Operation” game, but blindly as most clinical personnel swabbing the nose are doing it without seeing inside the nose.’
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