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Abstract Details

Meningoencephalitis Secondary To Cerebrospinal Fluid Leakage From Nasopharyngeal COVID-19 Swab
Infectious Disease
P6 - Poster Session 6 (5:30 PM-6:30 PM)

The WHO regarded the novel coronavirus as an outbreak on January 2020. The preferable initial testing to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA was from the upper respiratory tract using nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) through nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal, nasal mid-turbinate, or anterior nasal specimen. Although specimen collection is considered safe and adverse events are rare, some reported cases of cerebrospinal fluid leakage were attributed to pharyngeal swab procedures. Therefore, increased awareness of nasal and pharyngeal swab complications is necessary.


A 36 years old female known to have chronic idiopathic intracranial hypertension brought to the emergency department with a history of fever, altered level of consciousness, and generalized tonic-clonic seizure. She had unilateral rhinorrhea for three months following a nasopharyngeal COVID-19 swab as part of an in-vitro fertilization workup. Upon assessment in the ED, she was stuporous due to sedation effect. There was no clear rhinorrhea, no papilledema on the fundus exam, and the remaining cranial nerves examination was unremarkable. She had positive meningeal signs. A cloudy cerebrospinal fluid analysis revealed findings of bacterial meningitis with high WBC and protein. She was started on empirical antimeningeal coverage. MRI brain showed a small CSF containing space at the left inferior frontal in the olfactory groove, which is continuous with the adjacent sulci concerning for the CSF leak site. Beta-transferrin was requested by the otolaryngology team and came back positive. 

After fourteen days of antibiotics, she regained her baseline cognitive and functional status then was discharged in stable condition with close follow-up with neurology, otolaryngology, and MRI cisternography. 

Our case emphasizes that awareness of potential adverse events related to nasopharyngeal swabs that became part of daily clinical practice and hospital policies must be improved. It also supports existing scattered evidence that an existing idiopathic intracranial hypertension can be associated with cerebrospinal fluid leakage. 
Mohammed Alnafisah, MBBS (National Guard Hospital Health Affairs)
Dr. Alnafisah has nothing to disclose.
Abdulrahman Altowairqi, MBBS (NGHA) Dr. Altowairqi has nothing to disclose.