Effects of Dropping the Requirement for Goblet Cells From the Diagnosis of Barrett's Esophagus.
ABSTRACT The 2011 American Gastroenterological Association diagnostic criteria for Barrett's esophagus (BE) require the presence of goblet cells in biopsy specimens of columnar mucosa within the esophagus. In other countries, patients can be diagnosed with BE based on evidence of columnar epithelium, regardless of the presence of goblet cells. We examined the effects that a broader criteria would have on diagnoses of patients with endoscopically suspected BE. We also compared the clinical outcomes of patients with and without goblet cells in esophageal biopsy samples.
We analyzed the University of Chicago Medical Center database to identify 690 patients with no previous history of BE who underwent endoscopic biopsy analysis for BE from 1987 to 2008. We collected endoscopy reports, histology results, and chart reviews.
Of biopsy specimens analyzed, samples from 258 patients contained goblet cells and 379 did not (53 of the biopsy samples contained only squamous mucosa). Patients whose biopsy samples contained goblet cells had longer endoscopic columnar segments (mean, 4.6 cm) and more biopsy specimens taken (mean, 5 biopsy specimens) than those without (mean length, 1.6 cm; mean, 4 biopsy specimens). Of patients whose biopsy specimens did not contain goblet cells, 35% underwent additional endoscopy; goblet cells continued to be absent in 88% of these (mean follow-up time, 5.8 y; 2.8 additional procedures; mean total biopsy specimens, 12). Goblet cells were identified in only 19% of all patients with columnar mucosa less than 2 cm. No patient without goblet cells developed adenocarcinoma.
Decreasing the requirement for goblet cells would increase the diagnosis of BE by 147%. Among patients with short columnar segments, subsequent endoscopy generally does not reveal goblet cells, so the columnar mucosa might represent proximal stomach. Decreasing the requirement for goblet cells would cause many patients to be inaccurately labeled as BE.