The marked decrease in surgical procedures in year 1 of the COVID-19 pandemic was followed by an increase in year 2, for a net reduction of 2.9% over 2 years.

Data from the Dutch pathology result registry PALGA was analyzed to investigate the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare use by patients with IBD. The investigation addressed endoscopic and surgical procedures, as well as new diagnoses of IBD or neoplasms after 2 years of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Findings from patients with IBD within the registry during the pandemic (March 2020 to February 2022) were compared with incidences from March 2018 to February 2020.

Out of nearly 95,000 IBD-related procedures, 94.2% were endoscopic; the rest were surgical. Overall, during the pandemic, procedures occurred 2.9% less frequently. This reduction was mainly influenced by fewer endoscopies. However, the net difference did not stem from a constant reduction over the 2 pandemic years, but from 2 opposing trends. The first COVID-19 year led to 6.2% fewer endoscopic and 1.3% fewer surgical procedures. In the second year, a net increase followed, leading to +0.02% (endoscopies) and +2.7% (surgeries).

Years 1 and 2 also saw a decline in new IBD diagnoses: -0.8% and -1.0%, respectively. No net difference in the detection of colorectal cancers and high-grade dysplasia were observed. However, the 2 COVID-19 years differed substantially with regard to diagnoses of indefinite or low-grade dysplasias: -10.9% (year 1) and +7.1% (year 2).

In conclusion, the data demonstrated that the meaningful lessening of IBD-related healthcare utilization between the time before the pandemic and the first 12 months of COVID-19 was somewhat alleviated during the pandemic’s second year.

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