The Academy reports that the swabs used to perform the nasopharyngeal PCR or antigen tests can cause “breaches of the anterior layer of the base of the skull associated with a risk of meningitis”.
The Covid-19 epidemic has notably resulted in a surge in the number of nasopharyngeal swabs but this method is “not without risk” and may be the cause of meningitis, the Academy warned on April 8. medicine. An announcement made a few days before the arrival in pharmacies of the “self-tests”, which however do not require taking so deep in the nasal cavities.
These samples, operated with a swab and now known to the general public, have become the “reference method”, whether for PCR tests or antigenic tests (whose results are faster) underlines the Academy in a press release. In fact, since the start of the epidemic, their number has skyrocketed, with some 70 million achieved between March 1, 2020 and April 4, 2021.
Inconvenience, pain or bleeding, serious complications have started to be described in the medical literature for a few weeks
However, faced with “the multiplication and repetition of samples, sometimes carried out in unsuitable conditions”, the Academy of Medicine recalls “the precautions to be observed and the risks incurred”. Because if most are benign, “inconvenience, pain or bleeding, serious complications have started to be described in the medical literature for several weeks, in particular breaches of the anterior level of the base of the skull associated with a risk of meningitis”, continues the scientific college, citing several recently published studies.
The Academy therefore recommends that these tests be reserved for “trained health professionals” and recommends that they inquire about any ENT history before proceeding. She also recommends giving preference to saliva samples for children. It also warns about the use of self-tests, which must arrive in pharmacies from April 12. These don’t require as deep a swab as the others, but the Academy recommends alerting users that “self-sampling can expose you to false negatives when swabbing is too timid and superficial,” but can also become dangerous when the swab is too deep and pointed in the wrong direction ”.