Background: Concern over the adequacy of histologic diagnosis of endoscopic duodenal biopsies in children prompted this comparative study on the histologic quality of endoscopic versus capsule biopsies. We found this problem addressed in only six previous reports.
Methods: Blind examinations of the histologic sections of 48 duodenal biopsies obtained by gastrointestinal endoscopy in children aged 2-18 years were compared to 52 biopsies obtained by the small bowel suction method (from children aged 1-16 years).
Results: Although 87.5% of endoscopic biopsies and 94.2% of capsule biopsies were adequate for histologic diagnosis, fragmentation or squashing was seen in 83.3% of endoscopic biopsies and only in 25% of capsule biopsies.
Conclusions: Biopsies obtained by suction are of better quality than those obtained by endoscopy. If endoscopy is preferred for technical reasons, the following conditions should be observed: the patients should be aged over 2 years, and a minimum of four biopsies should be obtained with forceps of a diameter greater than 2 mm. Adequate histologic criteria for diagnosis should include at least one full-thickness mucosal specimen more than 3 mm in length, vertically oriented, and not fragmented. In children under age 2, duodenal or jejunal capsule biopsies are preferred, since the specimens are usually larger and less fragmented. Endoscopy is technically more difficult in the very young patient.