BACKGROUND - Endoscopic therapy has emerged as an alternative to surgical esophagectomy for the management of Barrett's esophagus (BE)-associated neoplasia. Accurate pretreatment staging is essential to ensure an appropriate choice of therapy and optimal long-term outcomes. This study aimed to assess the frequency with which expert histopathologic review of biopsies combined with endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) would alter the pretreatment diagnosis of BE-associated neoplasia.
METHODS - Patients referred to the Vanderbilt Barrett's Esophagus Endoscopic Treatment Program (V-BEET) were retrospectively identified. Demographic, histopathologic, and endoscopic data were extracted from the medical record.
RESULTS - For this study, 29 subjects referred for endoscopic staging of BE fulfilled the entry criteria. The referral diagnosis was low-grade dysplasia (LGD) in 3 % (1/29), high-grade dysplasia (HGD) in 62 % (18/29), intramucosal adenocarcinoma (T1a) adenocarcinoma in 17 % (5/29), and invasive adenocarcinoma in 17 % (5/29) of the subjects. Expert histopathologic review of available referral biopsy specimens altered the diagnosis in 33 % (5/15) of the cases. Further diagnostic staging with EMR showed BE without dysplasia in 10 % (3/29), LGD in 14 % (4/29), HGD in 34 % (10/29), T1a adenocarcinoma in 28 % (8/29), and invasive adenocarcinoma in 14 % (4/29) of the patients. The combination of expert histopathologic review and EMR altered the initial diagnosis for 55 % (16/29) of the subjects, with 56 % (9/16) upstaged to more advanced disease and 44 % (7/16) downstaged to less advanced disease.
CONCLUSIONS - The practice of combined expert histopathologic review and EMR alters the pretreatment diagnosis for the majority of patients with BE-associated neoplasia. Caution is advised for those embarking on endoscopic or surgical treatment for BE-associated neoplasia in the absence of these staging methods.