Are endoscopic biopsies of small bowel as good as suction biopsies for diagnosis of enteropathy?

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1999 Oct;29(4):438-41. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199910000-00012.


Background: Endoscopy is increasingly used in paediatric practice for diagnosis of enteropathy, although the quality of grasp forceps-obtained biopsy specimens required for reliable diagnosis has been questioned in comparison with suction capsule biopsy specimens. This study prospectively compared the diagnostic suitability of grasp forceps biopsy versus suction biopsy in the same patient during the same procedure.

Methods: A double-port paediatric suction biopsy capsule was front-loaded onto an endoscope and directed to the fourth part duodenum-proximal jejunum for biopsy sampling. Subsequently, three grasp biopsy specimens were taken from the same region. All biopsies were coded, photographed, and measured for area, using computed morphometry. A single blinded histopathologist assessed sample adequacy for diagnosis. Twenty-nine patients were enrolled (age range, 8-185 months).

Results: On three occasions the suction capsule failed to fire, and on four occasions only one sample was obtained. Three grasp biopsy specimens were obtained on each occasion by endoscopy, and the first two were used for comparison with suction biopsy samples. Median total area of individual biopsy samples obtained by the two procedures was not different (21.3 vs. 22.5 mm2; P = 0.027). Muscularis mucosae was obtained more commonly with grasp biopsies (P<0.001), and no difference was observed for the presence of three or more villus-crypt units, degree of haemorrhage, or optimal orientation. Two suction biopsy procedures and one grasp biopsy procedure were inadequate for diagnosis.

Conclusions: Endoscopic grasp biopsies are perfectly adequate for the assessment of small intestinal histology. In addition, endoscopy affords advantage in diagnosis of other upper gastrointestinal disease with avoidance of radiologic screening involved with the suction capsule technique.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Biopsy, Needle*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endoscopy, Digestive System*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intestinal Diseases / pathology*
  • Intestine, Small / pathology*
  • Single-Blind Method