A recent study by Johns Hopkins researchers published in JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery found evidence of SARS-CoV-2— the virus that causes COVID-19—in the middle ear and mastoid of two patients diagnosed with COVID-19. A summary of the study was published in an article appearing on MedPage Today.

Warning that the results have “significant implications for otolaryngology procedures,” the authors of the study recommend personal protective equipment (PPE) such as eye protection and N95 masks be worn by health care practitioners performing ear surgery. In an accompanying editorial titled “News Flash,” Bradley Kesser, MD, of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said that otolaryngologists have been waiting six months for this study, ”given the anatomic connection from the nasopharynx, site of initial infection and virus isolation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to the tympanic cavity through the eustachian tube.” Kesser goes on to say that although no documented cases of  SARS-CoV-2 infection have resulted in a health care worker due to a middle ear or mastoid procedure, “mastoidectomy clearly generates aerosols and exposes health care workers,” and proper precautions should be followed. Kessler recommends pre-screening several days prior to the procedure and in-office screening, the day of.

To read the article on MedPage Today in its entirety, please click here.

Original Papers: Frazier KM, Hooper JE, Mostafa HH, Stewart CM. SARS-CoV-2 virus isolated from the mastoid and middle ear implications for COVID-19 precautions during ear surgery. JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery. 2020. DOI:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.1922.

Kesser BW. News Flash!—SARS-CoV-2 isolated from the middle ear and mastoid. JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery. 2020. DOI:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.2067.

Source: MedPage Today, JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery