Unique Anatomically Designed Flocked Swab Yields Superior Flu Diagnostics and Minimal Patient Discomfort

December 20, 2017

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The holidays are here and with them come boughs of holly, eggnog, lots of ribbon and plenty of pine needles strewn throughout the living room. There is so much to be thankful for: sitting back by the fire, musing over how this season is all about giving and receiving. Well, as microbiologists understand, carefully wrapped presents aren’t the only thing circulating around this season. Influenza is the gift that keeps on giving. When the flu is in town, nobody is happy.

Just like Christmas, Influenza is no surprise to Clinicians and Microbiologists alike. It comes every year, and every year, it’s a different strain with various genetic changes. The challenge of diagnosing influenza is met and answered with proper sample collection and accurate point-of-care testing. Nasal washes, aspirates and swabbing are the different methods to collect a sample to test for influenza. The process recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention involves a nasopharyngeal swab and a rapid influenza diagnostic test. A recent study set out to find a suitable swab for sample collection for flu testing with improved patient acceptance.

The study, Accuracy and Discomfort of Different Types of Intranasal Specimen Collection Methods for Molecular Influenza Testing in Emergency Department Patients, aimed to determine the accuracy and patient comfort levels of three separate swabs (nasal, midturbinate, nasopharyngeal) to identify a suitable alternative that would be as sensitive, as the recommended nasopharyngeal swab, but would reduce the level of patient discomfort. For this the study, “swabs taken from the anterior nares and midtubinate region were compared to a nasopharyngeal swab for accuracy of influenza polymerase chain reaction testing and for patient discomfort.”

484 Emergency Department patients with symptoms resembling the flu were sampled. Each patient was swabbed with all three swabs and asked to report their level of discomfort on a validated 6-point scale for each. Outcomes were compared by a test performance between the nasal and midturbinate swabs to that of the nasopharyngeal swabs.

COPAN is the only manufacturer that offers an anatomically designed contoured flocked swab with a stopper to reach the mid-turbinate region for respiratory virus sampling in children and in adults. COPAN developed the contoured flocked swabs with the patients in mind, to make mid-turbinate nasal collection intuitive, consistent, and straightforward. It maximizes sample collection, and minimizes patient discomfort. The mid-turbinate anatomic and ergonomic design has excellent respiratory epithelial cell sampling.  FLOQSwabs®, have no internal absorbent core to disperse and entrap the specimen allowing for over 90% release of the sample, while the short Nylon® fibers, arranged in a perpendicular fashion, creates a highly absorbent thin layer.

The sensitivity for detecting influenza was 98% with the midturbinate over 84.4% which was found with the nasal. The specificity was 98.5% with the midturbinate versus 99.1% with the nasal, with 0.6% difference which is not considered significant. The levels of discomfort rated the nasal swab a 0 and the midturbinate at 1, compared to the traditional nasopharyngeal sample which was a 3.

While the levels of sensitivity and specificity were impressive, the low levels of discomfort reported by the patients make COPAN’s uniquely designed swab with a stopper an excellent alternative for routine use in emergency departments. The study concludes that “[c]ompared with the reference standard nasopharyngeal swab specimen, midturbinate swab specimens provided a significantly more comfortable sampling experience, with only a small sacrifice in sensitivity for influenza detection. Nasal swab specimens were significantly less sensitive than midturbinate swab. Our results suggest the midturbinate swab is the sampling method of choice for molecular influenza testing in ED”! Isn’t that a reason to celebrate?

To try this intuitive anatomically designed swab, Request a Sample today!