The First 3D-printed Nasal Swab for Diagnosing Coronavirus

3D-printed Nasal Swab

Earlier this year, the nasopharyngeal swabs (NP) used to test coronavirus were short which led to thousands of patients to diagnose late. In response to this shortage, a research team from the Department of Radiology at the University of South Florida (USF) Health started working to design a 3D-printed nasal swab which is finally completed. The results of this first-ever 3D-printed nasal swab trials are soon to be presented at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA)’s annual meeting.

This 3D-printed nasal swab created by the University of South Florida (USF) team has now reached nearly 100,000 swabs which are distributed in many hospitals to save millions of people by diagnosing them on time.

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This new swab is receiving acknowledgment and appreciation not just from the national level but also the international level, calling it a much-needed innovative tool for the time.

This 3D printed nasal swab is used to obtain a nasal secretion sample from the backside of the patient’s nose as well as throat. This sample is then sent to the lab for complete analysis. This swab contains a small and narrow rod made of plastic and its tip is made of polyester.

The coronavirus first attacks the nasopharyngeal areas in the body and from this point, it is then inhaled by the body through the respiratory system. During the early phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for high-level testing was much needed but due to the unavailability of the swabs, the testing was very slow. At this time, this research team started working on developing a swab that can be used in place of the flocked swab for rapid testing.

Initially, they developed 12 designs of these swabs and only one of them ended up as a prototype. It was created in collaboration with FormLabs printers made with a surgical-grade resin.

This prototype was later on sent to the infectious diseases experts at Northwell and the University of South Florida (USF) to verify the results. The validation was necessary to make sure that this 3D printed nasal swab is able to pick a sufficient load of viral bodies and produces reasonable results.

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They also checked the efficiency of the 3D printed nasal swab as compared to the flocked swab using an extensive trial. These trials were conducted at a number of hospitals such as Tampa General Hospital, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and, Northwell Hospital.

Nearly 291 Patients from age 14 to 94 years old were checked using these nasal swabs. All of these patients were hospitalized with extreme Covid complications. The results from 3d swab were exceptionally helpful to diagnose the patients as compared to the flocked swab.

Tampa General Hospital started to use these 3D swabs as their first choice of Covid testing and nearly printed 300 swabs per day. As per an estimate, some 9000 swabs were printed using six printers of the hospital.

The highly positive results from these clinical trials revealed that 3D trials can be used in place of the regularly flocked swabs.



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