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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