Coronavirus swab gets stuck in woman’s lung after falling through breathing tube

A woman being tested for coronavirus in a hospital ended up with a swab getting trapped in her lung, a medical report revealed.

The 51-year-old patient recently had a tracheostomy – a surgical procedure involving a breathing tube being cut into the throat.

Fearing she might have contracted coronavirus during her stay in the hospital, a nurse tried to perform a swab test for the woman through her neck tube.

But the swab, which is designed to snap to fit into its test tube, fell through the breathing hole while sweeping for tissue samples.

A tubular camera video shared by British Medical Journal Case Reports Journal shows the moment the swab is found lodged in the airway inside the woman's lung.

The snapped swab is barely visible as the patient breathes.

It did not show up on an X-ray scan after the incident, the medics mentioned in the report.

Doctors at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust had to remove the swab using a flexible bronchoscopy.

According to the report, the patient had recently had a neurosurgery to remove a fragment of her skull for an unrelated illness and was due to be discharged to a nursing home.

Dr Mohammed Hussain, who led the report, said: "The above case highlights the potential dangers of taking a mucosal swab from a tracheostomy site.

"Heightened concerns around SARS-CoV-2 and wearing full personal protective equipment increase the probability of human error occurring.

"There is a need for clear guidance on how to test patients with front of neck airways."

A trust spokesman said it had put in place "additional safety measures" and shared "learning" with staff following the case.

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