Reassessment of esophageal histology in normal subjects: a comparison of suction and endoscopic techniques

J Clin Gastroenterol. 1983 Apr;5(2):177-83. doi: 10.1097/00004836-198304000-00017.


We have examined esophageal biopsies from 18 asymptomatic volunteers. These normal subjects were also evaluated by esophageal manometry with determination of motor function of the esophagus and lower esophageal sphincter pressure, a modified Bernstein acid infusion test, and a basal pH reflux test. In 12 subjects, biopsies were obtained by suction technique; the remaining six had pinch biopsies performed during upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. Forty-nine (92.5%) of the 53 suction biopsies yielded tissue as deep as muscularis mucosa or at least ample amounts of lamina propria. In contrast, all 28 endoscopic biopsies yielded squamous epithelium only. Moreover, suction biopsies were generally well-oriented (83%), whereas endoscopic biopsies were less commonly well-oriented (35.7%). All volunteer subjects had a negative acid reflux test confirming the absence of latent or asymptomatic reflux. Only one subject (5.6%) had biopsies which met histologic criteria for gastroesophageal reflux. We conclude that: 1) more tissue, more information, and better orientation is achieved with suction than with endoscopic biopsies of the esophagus; 2) the low false-positive rate observed in volunteers in whom gastroesophageal reflux was objectively excluded emphasizes the value of esophageal biopsy as a reliable index in the evaluation of gastroesophageal reflux.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy*
  • Esophagitis / pathology
  • Esophagogastric Junction / physiology
  • Esophagoscopy*
  • Esophagus / anatomy & histology*
  • Esophagus / physiology
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manometry
  • Suction