Conclusions from the histological diagnosis of low-grade intraepithelial neoplasia in Barrett's oesophagus

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2007 Jun;42(6):682-8. doi: 10.1080/00365520601075803.


Objective: It is well known that low-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (LGIN) in Barrett's oesophagus (BE) might progress to high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (HGIN) or carcinoma. Since accurate diagnosis of LGIN is difficult, general pathologists are frequently uncertain about the diagnosis of LGIN and its follow-up risks. The purpose of this study was to analyse the divergence between the diagnoses of general and specialized gastrointestinal pathologists.

Material and methods: Fifty consecutive patients with a previous diagnosis of LGIN in BE, made by a general pathologist, were included in our study. The histopathological slides of every patient were reassessed in a blinded fashion by two specialized gastrointestinal (GI) pathologists. Inter-observer variability was calculated using kappa statistics.

Results: LGIN was confirmed by specialized pathologists in only 25/50 patients (50%). Twenty-one patients (42%) had Barrett's metaplasia without intraepithelial neoplasia and in 4 patients (8%) HGIN or Barrett's carcinoma (BC) was revealed. Inter-observer agreement between the general and specialized pathologists for the diagnosis of LGIN was poor (kappa = - 0.17) and good between both of the specialized pathologists (kappa = 0.69). Patients with HGIN/BC were treated by endoscopic resection or surgery. In patients with LGIN, ablative therapy was performed. Complete response was achieved in 25 patients, but 3 patients developed HGIN and 1 patient developed BC after 10+/-3.6 months.

Conclusions: BE with LGIN is difficult to diagnose. Inter-observer variability is unacceptable between general and specialized pathologists and therefore when diagnosing LGIN a second opinion should always be sought by a specialized GI pathologist. Ablation therapy seems to be effective in patients with LGIN, but follow-up endoscopies are necessary to detect metachronous neoplasia.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Barrett Esophagus / diagnosis*
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology
  • Carcinoma in Situ / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged