Background: The optimal management of high-grade dysplasia in patients with Barrett's esophagus is controversial. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of unsuspected carcinoma at esophagectomy in patients with Barrett's esophagus with high-grade dysplasia after endoscopic surveillance with jumbo biopsy forceps compared with standard biopsy forceps.
Methods: Twelve patients with high-grade dysplasia in Barrett's esophagus without gross or microscopic evidence of carcinoma underwent esophagectomy after preoperative endoscopy with 4-quadrant jumbo biopsies at 2-cm intervals. The findings in this group were compared with those in a group of patients with Barrett's esophagus who underwent esophagectomy for high-grade dysplasia after biopsies obtained at 2-cm intervals with standard biopsy forceps.
Results: Unsuspected cancer was found in 4 of 12 (33%) patients in the jumbo biopsy group compared with 6 of 16 (38%) in the standard biopsy group (p = NS). All 6 cancers in the standard biopsy group were intramucosal, whereas 2 were intramucosal and 2 were submucosal in the jumbo biopsy group. No patients in either group had lymph node metastases.
Conclusions: Unsuspected cancer is found frequently in patients with Barrett's esophagus who are undergoing esophagectomy for high-grade dysplasia despite the use of a rigorous jumbo biopsy protocol. Esophageal resection is still indicated in appropriately selected patients with high-grade dysplasia until better markers of cancer risk are available.