Aim: To evaluate the sensitivity of brush cytology and forceps biopsy in a homogeneous patient group with hilar cholangiocarcinoma.
Methods: Brush cytology and forceps biopsy were routinely performed in patients with suspected malignant biliary strictures. Fifty-eight consecutive patients undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP) including forceps biopsy and brush cytology in patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma between 1995-2005.
Results: Positive results for malignancy were obtained in 24/58 patients (41.4%) by brush cytology and in 31/58 patients (53.4%) by forceps biopsy. The combination of both techniques brush cytology and forceps biopsy resulted only in a minor increase in diagnostic sensitivity to 60.3% (35/58 patients). In 20/58 patients (34.5%), diagnosis were obtained by both positive cytology and positive histology, in 11/58 (19%) by positive histology (negative cytology) and only 4/58 patients (6.9%) were confirmed by positive cytology (negative histology).
Conclusion: Brush cytology and forceps biopsy have only limited sensitivity for the diagnosis of malignant hilar tumors. In our eyes, additional diagnostic techniques should be evaluated and should become routine in patients with negative cytological and histological findings.