Polysomy and p16 deletion by fluorescence in situ hybridization in the diagnosis of indeterminate biliary strictures

Gastrointest Endosc. 2012 Jan;75(1):74-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gie.2011.08.022. Epub 2011 Nov 17.


Background: The diagnosis of indeterminate biliary strictures is limited because of the low sensitivity of cytology. However, an accurate diagnosis of malignancy is critical in the management of patients with suspected biliary malignancy. Testing for chromosomal aneuploidy by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) may increase the yield.

Objective: To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of FISH in indeterminate biliary strictures and the additional value of including deletion of 9p21 (p16) in the diagnostic criteria of malignant biliary strictures.

Design: Retrospective review.

Setting: Academic medical center.

Patients: This study involved 76 consecutive patients who were seen for the evaluation of indeterminate strictures at our institution. These patients were screened, and 50 patients with either a final pathologic diagnosis or ≥ 12 months' conclusive follow-up were included in the analysis.

Main outcome measurements: Sensitivity, specificity, and area under the curve (AUC) analysis of cytology alone compared with the presence of FISH polysomy versus FISH polysomy and 9p21 deletion.

Results: The presence of increased copy numbers (polysomy) of chromosome 3, 7, or 17 by FISH increased the sensitivity of brush cytology from 21% to 58%, and when the presence of 9p21 deletion was included, the sensitivity increased to 89%. The specificity of FISH was 97% (vs 100% for cytology). The accuracy of cytology combined with FISH polysomy (AUC = 0.93) or p16 deletion was significantly greater than the accuracy of cytology alone (AUC 0.6; P < .001) or even cytology combined with FISH polysomy (AUC = 0.77; P ≤ .05).

Limitations: Sample size. There is a relatively high incidence of malignant biliary strictures in the entire cohort but low incidence among primary sclerosing cholangitis patients, and the majority of cancers are cholangiocarcinomas (as opposed to pancreatic).

Conclusion: FISH significantly improves the diagnostic accuracy of brush cytology in indeterminate biliary strictures. In our series, the addition of 9p21 deletion to FISH polysomy and cytology further improved sensitivity. This suggests that 9p21 deletion may be added to the diagnostic criteria in indeterminate strictures.

MeSH terms

  • Aneuploidy
  • Area Under Curve
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / complications
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic / pathology*
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / complications
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / diagnosis
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / complications
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / diagnosis
  • Chromosome Deletion*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 17
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 3
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 7
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 9
  • Constriction, Pathologic / etiology
  • Constriction, Pathologic / pathology
  • Cytodiagnosis
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genes, p16*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence*
  • Male
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies


  • DNA, Neoplasm