Aims: As part of a multinational effort to reach a consensus in the definition and evaluation of atrophic gastritis, we applied morphometric techniques to 22 antral biopsy specimens examined visually by 12 experienced gastrointestinal pathologists.
Methods and results: Atrophy was defined as loss of glands. Each pathologist graded atrophy with both non-standardized and standardized approaches. Discriminant function analyses of morphometric measurements were conducted to validate and grade atrophy. Kappa statistics were used to compare the performance of each pathologist against the group mode and against the discriminant functions' grading of atrophy. Three morphometric indexes showed significant differences among categories of atrophy utilizing non-standardized as well as standardized visual atrophy grades: (i) the ratio of glandular length to total mucosal thickness; (ii) the proportion of the secretory compartment area occupied by glands; and (iii) the number of glandular cross sections per 40x microscopic field. The discriminant function analyses verified all cases classified visually as either non-atrophic, or moderately/severely atrophic; it verified as mildly atrophic 40% of the cases classified visually as mildly atrophic; and classified the remaining 60% as moderately or severely atrophic. The kappa statistics were good or excellent for the majority of pathologists.
Conclusions: The evaluation of antral atrophy, simply defined as loss of glands, can be reliable and reproducible. The visual grading of atrophy as absent, moderate and severe is entirely consistent with objective morphometric observations.