Background: The Venturi-principle atomizer is a commonly used device in otolaryngology practices. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the possible route of bacterial contamination from the nasal vestibule to the atomizer tip through the jet airflow created during the use of the Venturi atomizer. Methods: Thirty nostrils from 15 enrolled volunteers were tested. The aerosols generated by spraying sterilized saline into the nostrils were collected using a specially made aerosol-collecting nozzle cap. The collected samples were sent for bacterial culture, and nasal vestibular swab cultures were performed for comparison. Results: In the aerosol-exposed group, 18 out of 30 samples (60%) were positive for bacterial growth, confirming the bacterial contamination from the nasal vestibule to the atomizer tip through the reverse jet airflow. The bacteria species in 8 of the 18 positive samples were identical to those from the nasal swab culture results from the same nostril. Conclusion: In ordinary otolaryngology practices, there are significant risks for bacterial contamination from the nasal vestibule to the tip of the Venturi atomizer even without direct contact. Clinicians must be more aware of this pattern of contamination, which has not been reported in the existing literature.
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