Background and aims: Considerable difficulties persist amongst pathologists in agreeing on the presence and severity of gastric atrophy. An international group of pathologists pursued the following aims: (i) to generate an acceptable definition and a simple reproducible classification of gastric atrophy; and (ii) to develop guidelines for the recognition of atrophy useful for increasing agreement among observers.
Methods: After redefining atrophy as the 'loss of appropriate glands' and examining histological samples from different gastric compartments, three categories were identified: (i) negative; (ii) indefinite; (iii) atrophy, with and without intestinalization. Atrophy was graded on a three-level scale. Interobserver reproducibility of the classification was tested by kappa statistics (general and weighted) in a series of 48 cases.
Results: The medians of the general agreement and weighted kappa values were 0.78 and 0.73, respectively. The weighted kappa coefficients, obtained by cross-tabulating the evaluation of each pathologist against all others, were, with only one exception, > 0.4 (moderate to excellent agreement).
Conclusions: By using the definition of atrophy as the loss of appropriate glands and distinguishing the two main morphological entities of metaplastic and non-metaplastic types, a high level of agreement was achieved by a group of gastrointestinal pathologists trained in different cultural contexts.