The covid tests performed in the nose are not “not without risk “. This is the alert given on April 8 by theMedical academy for all the so-called “nasopharyngeal“.

These samples, operated with a swab, have become “the reference method“, whether for PCR tests or antigenic tests whose results are faster, recalls the Academy in a press release.

Read also: PCR, saliva or antigen tests: instructions for use

70 million tests in 13 months

And since the start of the epidemic, their number has soared: 70 million tests carried out between March 1, 2020 and April 4, 2021 (57.7 million PCRs and 12.4 antigens) according to the DREES.

So in front of “the multiplication and repetition of samples, sometimes carried out under unsuitable conditions“, the Academy of Medicine recalls”the precautions to be observed and the risks involved“.

Bleeding, pain, breaches and meningitis

Because if most of the samples are benign, they can lead to “discomfort, pain or bleeding“.”Serious complications“have even been”described in the medical literature for a few weeks“, notes the Academy.

Main risk, according to the scientific college: the occurrence of “breaches of the anterior level of the base of the skull associated with a risk of meningitis“.

Trained health professionals

The Academy therefore recommends reserving the performance of these tests “trained health professionals“. She also recommends that they inquire about possible”accidental or surgical history of the ENT sphere which may modify the anatomy of the nasal and sinus cavities“, such as interventions at the level of the septum, the nasal turbinate and the sinuses of the face.

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In practice, it is necessary to ensure that the patient’s head is maintained “in natural position, chin parallel to the ground“, then”introduce the swab following the floor of the nasal cavity horizontally “, and do not deflect it “in no case upwards, towards the base of the skull“, lists the Academy.

Its last recommendation concerns children, in whom it will be necessary to privilege salivary samples “for their safety and acceptability“.

Soon the self-tests

This alert falls a few days before the arrival at the pharmacy of the “self-tests“If they do not require taking as deep into the nostrils as for PCR or antigen tests, precautions are still necessary.

The Academy recommends alerting users to the fact that “self-sampling can expose to false negatives when the swab is too timid and superficial, but can also become dangerous when the swab is too deep and pointed in the wrong direction.

To achieve this happy medium, the self-test instructions for use recommend inserting the swab three centimeters deep into each nostril.