Increasing demand for ophthalmic pathology: time trends in a laboratory with nationwide coverage

BMC Ophthalmol. 2023 Mar 6;23(1):88. doi: 10.1186/s12886-023-02828-1.


Purpose: To report the time trends in basic patient characteristics and the number of specimens received at a national referral center for ophthalmic pathology.

Methods: Data on patient sex, age at surgical resection and geographical location of the referring unit were obtained for all specimens received at the St. Erik Ophthalmic Pathology laboratory, Stockholm, Sweden, between January 1st, 1959, and December 31st, 2021.

Results: A total of 33 057 specimens had been received, of which 14 560 (44%) came from men and 18 477 (56%) from women (for 20 patients, the sex was not specified). The average annual percent change (AAPC) in the number specimens received was + 10.5%, whereas the Swedish population increased with 0.5% per year. Patients became older throughout the period, with an average yearly increase of patient age at surgery of 0.3 years (AAPC 0.2%). Overall, women were three years older than men at surgery (59.4 versus 56.4 years, P < 0.0001) The number of specimens increased with patient age from the first to the 8th decade, after which it decreased to zero in the 11th decade. The largest portion of patients had undergone their surgery in one of the hospitals or clinics in the capital region, with four of the five largest sources corresponding to the most populous counties in the country.

Conclusions: During six decades, the growth in number of specimens sent to our national referral center for ophthalmic pathology has greatly outpaced the growth of the population, indicating an increasing demand for subspecialized services. Throughout the period, patients have become older, and a higher number of specimens have been submitted from female patients.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Ocular pathology; Oncology; Ophthalmic pathology; Population statistics; Time trend.

MeSH terms

  • Eye*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Sweden / epidemiology