3D-Printed Nasal Swabs on Par With Traditional Swabs for Coronavirus Testing

By Megan Brooks

December 02, 2020

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Nasal swabs created with a 3D printer proved as effective as traditional swabs in detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection in a head-to-head comparison.

When the pandemic began to ramp up last spring, researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa realized there would be a critical shortage of nasopharyngeal swabs for testing.

The USF team collaborated with colleagues at Northwell Health in New York City to develop the 3D-printed swab.

In testing on 291 patients, the 3D-printed swabs were "as good as the synthetic standard and in some cases better," Dr. Summer Decker reported November 29 in a presentation to the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) virtual annual meeting.

The 3D swabs also performed similarly to standard of care swabs with respect to patient comfort, said Dr. Decker, director of the USF radiology department's 3D clinical applications program.

Tampa General Hospital has adopted the 3D swabs as its standard of care and is currently printing about 9,000 swabs per week, a process that takes up to 15 hours depending on the printer.

"To date, USF Health has printed more than 100,000 3D (nasopharyngeal) swabs, and hospitals around the world have used our 3D files to print tens of millions more swabs for point-of-care use," Dr. Decker said in a news release.

"We have an urgency right now to be able to address the need in the community so we have not rested. We have been working every single day, just to be able to make sure that we can keep up with that demand," she noted in her presentation.

The project was initiated and developed through collaborations with the RSNA 3D Printing Special Interest group.

"This swab is an example of what can happen when a whole bunch of people have a common purpose and have a common mission and we can put all the boundaries inside of who does what and all work together. And I think that is one of the beautiful and positive things for me in such a terrible situation that we're in," Dr. Decker told the conference.

For more information on the 3D-printed swabs, contact 3dclinicalapplications@usf.edu.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/33sWOoj RSNA 2020 annual meeting, presented November 29, 2020.