Asystole During Nasopharyngeal Swab: Is COVID-19 to Blame?
The use of nasopharyngeal (NP) swab sampling for the detection of various respiratory pathogens has been a standard procedure in medicine for many years. While this is a fairly common procedure, there has been a significant increase in utilization recently due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We describe a case of a 40-year-old SARS-CoV-2 positive patient with no prior cardiac history who developed asystole while an NP swab was being used to obtain a sample for a SARS-CoV-2 assay. Return of normal sinus rhythm was achieved with chest compressions alone. The incident was deemed to have been an exaggerated vagal response to intranasal stimulation; better known as the trigeminocardiac reflex. This is the first reported case describing asystole during use of an NP swab. This case occurred in a patient with no known cardiac disease and highlights the potential importance of the arrhythmogenic nature of COVID-19 that could potentiate the vagal response in susceptible individuals undergoing NP sampling.
Madanat L, Khalife A, Sims M. Asystole During Nasopharyngeal Swab: Is COVID-19 to Blame? Cureus. 2021 Jun 4;13(6):e15448. doi: 10.7759/cureus.15448. PMID: 34249579; PMCID: PMC8253460.