Prevalence of intestinal metaplasia in the distal oesophagus, oesophagogastric junction and gastric cardia in symptomatic patients in north-east Italy: a prospective, descriptive survey. The Italian Ulcer Study Group "GISU"

Dig Liver Dis. 2001 May;33(4):316-21. doi: 10.1016/s1590-8658(01)80084-0.


Background: Incidence of adenocarcinoma of distal oesophagus and gastric cardia, probably arising from areas of intestinal metaplasia, has been increasing rapidly.

Aims: To define prevalence of intestinal metaplasia of distal oesophagus, oesophagogastric junction and gastric cardia and to evaluate potential associated factors, by means of a prospective multicentre study including University and teaching hospitals, and primary and tertiary care centres.

Patients: Each of 24 institutions involved in study enrolled 10 consecutive patients undergoing first-time routine endoscopy for dyspeptic symptoms.

Methods: Patients answered symptom questionnaires and underwent gastroscopy Three biopsies were taken from distal oesophagus, oesophago-gastric junction and gastric cardia, and were stained with haematoxylin and eosin. Specimens were also evaluated for Helicobacter pylori infection.

Results: A total of 240 patients (124 male, 116 female; median age 56 years, range 20-90) were enrolled in study. Intestinal metaplasia affected distal oesophagus in 5, oesophago-gastric junction in 19 and gastric cardia in 10 patients. Low-grade dysplasia was found at distal oesophagus and/or oesophago-gastric junction of 3/24 patients with intestinal metaplasia vs 2/216 without intestinal metaplasia (p<0.05). A significant association was found between symptoms and presence of intestinal metaplasia, regardless of location, and between Helicobacter pylori infection and intestinal metaplasia at oesophago-gastric junction.

Conclusions: Intestinal metaplasia of distal oesophagus, oesophagogastric-junction and gastric cardia is found in a significant proportion of symptomatic patients undergoing gastroscopy and is associated with dysplasia in many cases. Although prevalence of dysplasia seems to decrease when specialized columnar epithelium is found in short segment, or even focally in oesophago-gastric junction, these small foci of intestinal metaplastic cells may represent source of most adenocarcinomas of cardia.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Barrett Esophagus / epidemiology*
  • Cardia
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Esophagogastric Junction
  • Female
  • Gastroscopy
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stomach Neoplasms / epidemiology