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Evaluation of Initial and Deeper Sections of Esophageal Biopsy Specimens for Detection of Intestinal Metaplasia

Yoginder K. Chitkara MD, Catherine L. Eyre HT(ASCP)
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/MGRXLQG9QVRVVMCG 886-888 First published online: 1 June 2005


There are wide variations in the preparation of histologic sections from endoscopic esophageal biopsy specimens. We evaluated serial step sections from 261 esophageal or gastroesophageal junction biopsies at 4 levels to determine the first level at which goblet cell metaplasia (GCM) was detected. Deeper step sections of 152 paraffin blocks also were obtained to determine whether additional sections are useful in detecting GCM not seen in initial levels. GCM was identified in 95.3% of blocks in 3 levels. GCM was seen at level 4 in 12 blocks (4.7%). In the blocks that did not reveal intestinal metaplasia in the initial 4 levels, deeper sections disclosed GCM in only 1 (0.8%) of 120 blocks. However, deeper sections revealed initially undetected GCM in 4 of 32 blocks from patients with a history of documented Barrett esophagus. We conclude that 4 levels of step sections are adequate in routine processing of esophageal biopsy specimens for demonstration of GCM. Deeper sections may be obtained for patients with known Barrett esophagus to better evaluate for dysplasia or find additional foci of GCM.

Key Words:
  • Esophagus
  • Metaplasia
  • Histology
  • Barrett
  • Sections
  • Biopsy