Cross-sectional study on lateral skull radiographs to design a new nasopharyngeal swab for simplified COVID-19 and respiratory infections diagnostic testing in children

Cecilia Goracci, Alessandra Volpe, Lorenzo Salerni, Elisabetta Paolini, Alessandro Vichi, Lorenzo Franchi

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Nasopharyngeal swab sample collection is the first-line testing method for diagnosing COVID-19 infection and other respiratory infections. Current information on how to properly perform nasopharyngeal swabbing in children is largely defective. This study aimed at collecting nostril to nasopharynx distance measurements on lateral skull radiographs of children and adolescents to design a nasopharyngeal swab meant to standardize and facilitate the sample collection procedure. A total of 323 cephalograms of 152 male and 171 female children aged 4–14 years taken for orthodontic reasons were selected. On each cephalogram, the shortest distance between the most anterosuperior point of the nostril contour and the nasopharynx outline was measured in mm parallel to the palatal plane. Descriptive statistics of the measurements were calculated for each age group. The lower limit of the 95% confidence intervals of the measurements was taken as a reference to design a swab shaft with marks that, at each age, delimitate a safety boundary for swab progression up to the posterior nasopharyngeal wall. The simplification of the procedure enabled by the newly designed nasopharyngeal swab is valuable to help healthcare providers perform specimen collection on children in a safe and effective way, perhaps under the less-than-ideal conditions possibly occurring in ‘point-of-need’ contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2022


  • nasopharyngeal swab
  • sample collection
  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • respiratory infections
  • children
  • lateral skull radiograph

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