Cytopathology Practice in the Covid-19 Pandemic, During the Lockdown and Post-lockdown Period: A Tertiary-Care Center Experience
Keywords:Covid-19 pandemic, fine-needle aspiration, malignancy rate, workload
Background: Covid-19 pandemic has changed the healthcare delivery and cytopathology practice worldwide. We evaluated our cytopathology laboratory workload during the lockdown and post-lockdown period and compared it with the same period in 2019, to see the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Methods: The cytological reports issued during the lockdown (10 March - 31 May 2020) and the post-lockdown period (1 June -31 August 2020); and the corresponding periods in 2019 were retrospectively reviewed from the database. Sample type, sampling site, and diagnostic categories were recorded.
Results: During the Covid-19 lockdown period, the total number of cytological specimens, was reduced from n=3197 to n=745, with a rate of 76,7%. The most reduction was in thyroid fine-needle aspiration (FNA) and cervicovaginal smears. Relative increases were observed for soft tissue, lung, and liver FNA samples (p<0.05) and cerebrospinal fluid, peritoneal and pleural fluid samples (p<0.05). In the post-lockdown period, the total number reduced from n=2461 to n=2032 with a rate of 17.4%. Significant reduction continued for thyroid FNAs, but other samples have nearly reached the pre-covid levels. During the total six months period, the rate of the malignant category increased while the negative for malignancy category decreased compared to 2019.
Conclusion: During the Covid-19 lockdown period, the reduction was primarily observed in the samples taken for screening purposes, and high-risk oncological patients continued to receive healthcare services. In the initial phase of the post-lockdown period, health services and cytopathology practice have rapidly reached almost the levels of the pre-pandemic period.
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