Cytology Services Utilisation Pattern in North-Central Nigeria

Introduction: Cytology  is  a  simple,  fast,  low  cost,  minimally  invasive  and  sensitive  technique  for evaluating  cells  sampled  from  lesions  in  the  body. Cytology  also  has  the  peculiar  advantages  of minimal invasiveness, low cost and speed. It is an aspect of pathology service at its fledgling stage in most institutions in sub-Saharan African countries.

Aims: This  study  examined  the  pattern  of  the  cytology  samples  received  in  the  laboratory  of  a relatively new tertiary hospital in north-central Nigeria.

Materials and  Methods: Three years archival slides and records of cytology samples were retrieved and analysed.

Results: Cytology specimens were 775 (27.5%) of 2,823 samples  accessioned during the  period. Most  of  the  samples  were  cervical  smears  constituting  436  (56.3%)  and  an  annual  rate  of  218 samples  per  year.  This  was  followed  by  134  (17.3%)  breast  fine  needle  aspiration  (FNA)  with  an annual rate of 67 samples per year. The 48 (6.2%) lymph nodes FNA samples had an annual rate of 24 samples per year. Soft tissue and thyroidmasses were 40 (5.2%) and 37 (4.8%), respectively. The sites of other less commonly requested cytology samples in this study included the liver, nose, eyes, testes, urine and peritoneal fluids. The patients’ age ranged from 14 months to 80 years.

Conclusions: This  study  shows  a  still  very  low  utilisation  of  cytology  services  in  management  of patients.  There  remains  the  need  of  developing  diagnostic  cytology  services  in  Nigeria,  taking advantage of its low cost, accuracy and timeliness as a simple, yet highly useful diagnostic tool in a resource deficient environment. In the north –central region of Nigeria, cytology is still grossly under-utilized  as  a  diagnostic  tool  in  the  management  of  patients.  Although  mostly  employed  in  routine cervical cancer screening, other patients need to benefit more from this simple, minimally invasive, cheap, highly sensitive and accurate investigative modality.

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