Background and study aims: Intestinal metaplasia, especially type III intestinal metaplasia is considered to be a precursor of gastric cancer and because of this it is suggested that these patients should be followed up by gastroscopy. Our aim was to find out the prevalence of intestinal metaplasia and its subtypes, the appearance of intestinal metaplasia in different parts of the stomach, and the correlation of intestinal metaplasia with other histological and endoscopic findings.
Patients and methods: A total of 505 consecutive patients, with a mean age+/-S.D. of 54+/-16 years, had two biopsies taken from the antrum, two from the corpus, and, in 272 cases, two from the angulus of the stomach during routine upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. Histological specimens were examined according to the updated Sydney system and the ones with incomplete intestinal metaplasia were further stained for sulphomucin visualisation to divide these into types II and III.
Results: The overall prevalence of intestinal metaplasia was 19%. The prevalence of type III intestinal metaplasia was 2.8%, type II intestinal metaplasia was 4.4%, and complete intestinal metaplasia was 11%. Intestinal metaplasia was found most frequently in the antrum and also in the angulus. There was no type III intestinal metaplasia in the corpus. Intestinal metaplasia was found more frequently in patients with atrophic gastritis than in other patients (p < 0.01). The patients with type III intestinal metaplasia were older than the patients without intestinal metaplasia (mean age of 73 versus 51 years). None of the patients with a totally normal appearing stomach in upper gastrointestinal endoscopy had type II or type III intestinal metaplasia.
Conclusion: The relatively high overall prevalence of intestinal metaplasia was found in patients referred for gastroscopy in a region of low prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection and low incidence of gastric cancer. Intestinal metaplasia was most often found in the antrum and angulus. Type III intestinal metaplasia was more prevalent in older patients and intestinal metaplasia was more frequently found in patients with atrophic gastritis. Normal appearing endoscopic finding seems to exclude type II and III intestinal metaplasia.