Objectives: Basal cell hyperplasia of the esophageal epithelium is a frequent finding in children with histological evidence of esophagitis. The aim of this study was to compare the severity of basal cell hyperplasia in gastroesophageal reflux vs eosinophilic esophagitis.
Methods: A cohort of pediatric patients who underwent same-day endoscopy with esophageal biopsy and 24-hour esophageal pH monitoring was divided into groups based on endoscopic and pH monitoring findings. Basal cell hyperplasia was defined as normal (< or = 25% of esophageal epithelial height), mild (26%-50%), moderate (51%-75%) or severe (> 75%). The severity of basal cell hyperplasia in patients with abnormal pH monitoring studies, both with and without endoscopic abnormalities of the esophagus, was compared with the severity in patients with eosinophilic esophagitis.
Results: Twenty-seven children with abnormal pH monitoring were identified. Of these 27 children, 11 had endoscopic findings consistent with reflux esophagitis. Thirty patients with eosinophilic esophagitis were identified. Patients with eosinophilic esophagitis had significantly increased severity (P < 0.001) of basal cell hyperplasia (87% severe, 3% moderate, 3% mild, 7%, normal) than patients with abnormal esophageal pH monitoring alone (11% severe, 4% moderate, 15% mild, 70% normal) or in combination with endoscopic abnormalities (18% severe, 9% moderate, 18% mild, 55% normal).
Conclusions: Basal cell hyperplasia is more severe in children with eosinophilic esophagitis than in those with reflux esophagitis. The finding of basal cell hyperplasia is a powerful clue into the underlying etiology of pediatric esophagitis and, along with epithelial eosinophil count, can be used as information to guide therapy.