Morphologic features are useful in distinguishing Barrett esophagus from carditis with intestinal metaplasia

Am J Surg Pathol. 2007 Nov;31(11):1733-41. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e318078ce91.


Barrett esophagus (BE) and carditis with intestinal metaplasia (CIM) differ in their risk of malignancy and implications for patient management, but are difficult to distinguish in mucosal biopsies from the gastroesophageal junction region. The present study was performed to evaluate the role of routine morphology in distinguishing BE from CIM in mucosal biopsies and to assess the degree of interobserver variability in recognizing morphologic parameters that are of significance in making this distinction. Several morphologic features, including presence of crypt disarray and atrophy, incomplete and diffuse intestinal metaplasia, multilayered epithelium, squamous epithelium overlying columnar crypts with intestinal metaplasia, hybrid glands, and esophageal glands/ducts, were significantly associated with a diagnosis of BE. The latter 3 features were observed exclusively in BE biopsies. Furthermore, multiple BE-associated morphologic features were often present together in BE but not CIM biopsies. There was substantial agreement (kappa=0.6) among expert gastrointestinal pathologists for distinguishing BE from CIM even in the absence of clinical/endoscopic information. The interobserver agreement in recognition of BE-associated morphologic features ranged from almost perfect for some features like esophageal glands/ducts (kappa=0.83) to slight for multilayered epithelium (kappa=0.17). In conclusion, our findings indicate that several morphologic features are helpful in distinguishing BE from CIM. The combined presence of multiple BE-associated morphologic features can be used in making this distinction with a high degree of accuracy. Larger prospective studies need to be performed to validate these findings and evaluate the reproducibility of this approach in routine clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy
  • Barrett Esophagus / diagnosis*
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology
  • Biopsy
  • Cardia / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Esophagogastric Junction / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gastritis / diagnosis*
  • Gastritis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metaplasia
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucous Membrane / pathology
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies