19.3 Nasal Specimen Collection

Specimen collections from a patient’s anterior nasal cavity and nasopharynx are used to test for multiple viral illnesses such as influenza and COVID-19. Nasal swabs can be performed by the nurse or the patient with proper education. It is vital to understand the anatomy of these areas to obtain an accurate sample so that patients receive the appropriate care they need. See Figure 19.4[1] for an image of the anatomy of the head and neck.

Review the “Checklist for Obtaining a Nasal Swab” for details about performing a nasal swab procedure.


Illustration showing anatomy of Head and Neck, with labels
Figure 19.4 Anatomy of the Head and Neck


Video Review of Nasopharyngeal Specimens and COVID-19 Testing:

Collection of Nasopharyngeal Specimens With the Swab Technique[2]

Introduction to COVID-19 Tests[3]

  1. 2303 Anatomy of Nose-Pharynx-Mouth-Larynx.jpg” by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 3.0
  2. NEJMVideo. (2009, November 23). NEJM procedure: Collection of nasopharyngeal specimens with the swab technique [Video]. YouTube. All rights reserved. This video is included on the basis of Fair Use. https://youtu.be/DVJNWefmHjE
  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020, June 4). An introduction to COVID-19 tests [Video]. YouTube. All rights reserved. https://youtu.be/5hu7_xIsCRgt


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