We hypothesized that the COVID-19 pandemicmay have modified dispensing of colonoscopy preparations, a proxy for the number of colonoscopies performed. We therefore studied changes in dispensing of colonoscopy preparations during the pandemic in France.
Using the French national health data system, we identified colonoscopy preparations dispensed from 2018 to 2020. The expected 2020 dispensations were estimated from 2018 to 2019 dispensations.
Dispensing of colonoscopy preparations decreased markedly during the eight weeks of national lockdown: 83,045 colonoscopy preparations were dispensed, i.e., 181,826 (68.6%) fewer than expected. After lockdown, dispensing of colonoscopy preparations gradually returned to expected numbers. Overall, this represents an estimated decrease of roughly 250,000 colonoscopy preparations during the six-month period following onset of the pandemic. This shortfall in the dispensing of colonoscopy preparations was of the same order of magnitude in people under or over 50 years of age, in men and women, and in those in the highest and the lowest quintiles of the deprivation index.
In conclusion, roughly 250,000 fewer colonoscopy preparations were dispensed during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic in France. Deleterious consequences on morbidity and mortality related to gastroenterological diseases, such as colorectal cancer, are to be feared.
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