Short Bites: Study Shows Oropharyngeal Secretions as Alternative for COVID-19 Detection
August 13, 2020
As the global battle to understand and eliminate the coronavirus continues, a new study published in the Journal of Dental Research demonstrates that testing of oropharyngeal secretions (OS) may reduce the number of false-negative results from nasal swab testing of patients who have seemingly recovered from the disease.
In the study, led by Jingzhi Ma, Tongji Hospital of Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Department of Stomatology, Wuhan, China, a small number of patients that had tested negative through nasopharyngeal swabs were found to be positive through the testing of oropharyngeal secretions.
Because of the detection of potential false-negatives in that cohort, results of paired oropharyngeal secretions sample and non-oropharyngeal secretions collected from 50 additional COVID-19 recruits during their recovery stage were used in a second prospective study to compare the diagnostic values of the two viral RNA sampling methods.
Oropharyngeal secretions obtained from 2 of the 75 subjects in the first study yielded positive results for SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid. In the second study, oropharyngeal secretion samples were significantly more sensitive for detection of the virus that NPS samples and missed only 14% of positive cases compared with 59% for the non-oropharyngeal secretion samples. Sampling of oropharyngeal secretion samples is a simple procedure that can be performed in any quarantine setting and minimizes contact between healthcare workers and patients, thereby reducing the risk of virus transmission.
Mark Schweizer, DDS, MPH, is an Assistant Professor and Director of Development and Special Projects, and Program Director for Ryan White HIV/AIDS Programs at Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine. Dr. Schweizer is also Dental Director for the Southeast AIDS Education and Training Center.