Intestine perforation by an accidental ingested SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal swab; a case report

Int J Surg Case Rep. 2022 Jul;96:107378. doi: 10.1016/j.ijscr.2022.107378. Epub 2022 Jun 30.


Introduction and importance: Gastrointestinal tract perforations as a result of foreign body ingestion are rare. Most ingested foreign bodies pass the intestines without complications. However, in 1 % of cases intestinal perforation occurs. We present the case of a 56-year old patient with an extensive surgical medical history who presented at the emergency department with progressive abdominal pain two weeks after accidental SARS-CoV-2 swab ingestion.

Case presentation: On presentation patient was tachycardic and had generalized abdominal tenderness. A CT scan showed free intraperitoneal air and fatty infiltration of the ileocecal anastomosis (after an ileocoecal resection at the age of 46) continuing to the distal sigmoid. Emergency exploratory laparotomy revealed a covid swab in the abdominal cavity with an indurated area of the sigmoid without perforation. Post-operative care was uneventful, and patient was dismissed after four days.

Clinical discussion: Due to his medical history and the fact he was advised to regularly self-test for COVID, he routinely performed an oropharyngeal swab. Unfortunately, this resulted in swallowing the swab. A perforation tends to happen in regions of acute angulation, such as an anastomosis. Although the CT scan suggested the perforation was at the ileocecal anastomosis, no perforation was found during surgery, while the swab was found loose in the peritoneal cavity.

Conclusion: Initial treatment should focus on endoscopic removal. In the case of gasto-intestinal perforation, surgery becomes the treatment of choice. A foreign body can migrate to peritoneal cavity without peritonitis or visible perforation perioperative.

Keywords: Case report; Exploratory surgery; Intestinal perforation; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Case Reports