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Serological tests and swabs for Covid 19: info and methods

The MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini” offers the possibility to perform swabs and serological tests for Covid-19, which respectively detect the presence of the virus and the production of antibodies directed against the virus itself. At our facility, all patients can request to undergo the swab or test, for which specific preparation is not necessary. By national decree and in compliance with the ordinance issued by the Tuscany Region, individuals with a fever above 37.5°C and respiratory symptoms must consult their general practitioner, especially if they also have more specific symptoms related to Covid-19 such as loss or reduction of smell or taste, diarrhea, shortness of breath, chest pain, and confusion. These symptoms may indeed indicate a medical condition for which a clinical evaluation in a public hospital setting is important, also for determining the level of care required.

Nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab

The positivity of the swab highlights the presence of the virus in the respiratory tract, as occurs in both symptomatic individuals and asymptomatic people. The examination consists of a swab of the nasal mucosa, pharynx (tonsillar area, oropharynx), or both sites. The presence of the virus can be detected using antigenic or RT-PCR techniques. The first method allows for rapid responses and has a very high capacity to detect negative individuals. The RT-PCR technique is now considered the reference method and is also used as confirmation in case the antigenic technique yields a positive result.

Both types of analysis must be performed by specialized personnel. The correct execution of procedure it is indeed essential to prevent false negativity.

How to do nasopharyngeal swab

To perform the nasopharyngeal swab, the swab is inserted into the patient’s nostril, parallel to the palate, until it reaches the middle turbinate or until resistance is encountered. The depth of insertion can be equal to the distance between the patient’s ear and nostril, indicating contact with the nasopharynx. At this point, the operator gently rotates and rubs the swab, holding it in place for a few seconds to absorb the secretions present. Subsequently, the swab is removed by gently rotating it.

How to perform oropharyngeal swab

To perform the oropharyngeal swab, the operator inserts the swab into the back of the throat and the tonsillar area, rubbing it on both tonsillar pillars and the posterior surface of the oropharynx, avoiding contact with the tongue, uvula, teeth, and gums.

These two types of swabs aim to detect ongoing SARS-CoV-2 infection and have a cost of 65 € for the antigen test (with approximately 18-24 hours waiting time for the result) and 82 € for the RT-PCR test (with approximately 72 hours waiting time for the result).

The two types of serological tests

The presence of antibodies directed against Covid-19 represents evidence of the “encounter” between the virus and the individual. IgM antibodies are the first to be produced, followed by IgG. A qualitative test (with responses: positive or negative) or a quantitative test (measuring the antibody titers present) can be performed. The latter, in a comparison over time, identifies the increase or decrease in antibody titer.

The qualitative serological test costs €36 (with a waiting time of 48 to 72 hours for the result). The quantitative serological test costs €56 (with the result expected within 24 hours).

To book a qualitative or quantitative serological test or a swab, it is necessary to call 0587 609134 or fill out the form below.

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