Trends in Colposcopy Volume: Where Do We Go From Here?

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Abstract

Objective

To describe the change in colposcopy volume in light of recent guideline shifts, which target higher-risk women while limiting unnecessary procedures in low-risk women.

Methods

After institutional review board approval, colposcopy clinic visits at a large-volume referral center from January 2010 to December 2015 were reviewed. All women diagnosed with abnormal cervical cytology who were referred and subsequently underwent colposcopic evaluation were included. Mean monthly and annual clinic volumes were calculated. Return visit proportions were compared using chi-square test. Negative binomial regression analysis was used to examine trends.

Results

There were a total of 8722 colposcopy clinic visits between January 2010 and December 2015. Approximately 7395 visits (85%) were new patient visits, and 1327 visits (15%) were return visits. The percentage of return visits declined dramatically during the study period from 22.9% (2011) of total visits to 9.0% in 2015 (P < 0.001). Annual clinic volume ranged from 903 to 1884 with a mean monthly volume of 121.13 visits (SD, 42.1). Annual volume was highest in 2011 (n = 1884) and has since demonstrated a steady decline. In 2015, average monthly volume (75.3 visits) dropped to nearly one third of its peak 218 visits per month in July 2010.

Conclusions

In a large referral clinic that adheres to guideline-based screening and management recommendations, monthly colposcopy volume has declined dramatically with a reduction by two thirds compared with peak volume in 2010.

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