The value of second opinion in gastrointestinal and liver pathology

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2001 Jun;125(6):736-9. doi: 10.1043/0003-9985(2001)125<0736:TVOSOI>2.0.CO;2.


Objective: The value of routine second opinion review of liver and gastrointestinal pathologic material was evaluated to determine whether there were discrepancies in diagnoses and if these discrepancies had an impact on treatment or prognosis.

Materials and methods: All gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary histopathology referral diagnoses made during a 1-year period for patients being treated at Ohio State University Medical Center were compared with the outside pathologic diagnosis. All major discrepant diagnoses were reviewed by at least 2 pathologists. Diagnoses were classified as no diagnostic disagreement, diagnostic disagreement, or no diagnostic disagreement but pertinent information missing or terminology unclear. Discrepant cases were also classified according to the clinical significance of the discrepancy.

Results: Pathology reports from 194 hepatobiliary and gastrointestinal cases were reviewed. Of the hepatobiliary cases, 57 (64.8%) of 88 cases showed no discrepancies. Discrepancies were noted in 31 cases (35.2%), including missing information or unclear terminology in the diagnosis in 23 cases (26.1%) and diagnostic disagreement in 8 cases (9.1%). Of the cases with discrepancies, 6 (6.8%) were of major significance. Of the gastrointestinal cases, 87 (82.1%) of 106 cases showed no discrepancies. Discrepancies were noted in 19 cases (17.9%), including missing or unclear information in 3 cases (2.8%) and diagnostic disagreements in 16 cases (15.1%). The cases with discrepancies included 8 cases (7.5%) for which the change was of major clinical significance.

Conclusions: Routine pathologic review of gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary cases revealed notable discrepancies in diagnoses. In 14 cases (7.2%), the change in diagnosis or additional information had a significant effect on the proper treatment or a significant prognostic implication. Routine review of all pertinent pathologic material should be performed on all patients being transferred to a second institution for treatment or second opinion.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Digestive System / pathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Diseases / diagnosis
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Referral and Consultation*