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Are Endoscopic Biopsies of Small Bowel as Good as Suction Biopsies for Diagnosis of Enteropathy?

Thomson, Mike; Kitching, Paul; Jones, Alison; Walker-Smith, John A.; Phillips, Alan

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: October 1999 - Volume 29 - Issue 4 - p 438-441
Original Articles

Background: Endoscopy is increasingly used in paediatric practice for diagnosis of enteropathy, although the quality of grasp forceps-obtained biopsy specimens required for reliable diagnosis has been questioned in comparison with suction capsule biopsy specimens. This study prospectively compared the diagnostic suitability of grasp forceps biopsy versus suction biopsy in the same patient during the same procedure.

Methods: A double-port paediatric suction biopsy capsule was front-loaded onto an endoscope and directed to the fourth part duodenum-proximal jejunum for biopsy sampling. Subsequently, three grasp biopsy specimens were taken from the same region. All biopsies were coded, photographed, and measured for area, using computed morphometry. A single blinded histopathologist assessed sample adequacy for diagnosis. Twenty-nine patients were enrolled (age range, 8-185 months).

Results: On three occasions the suction capsule failed to fire, and on four occasions only one sample was obtained. Three grasp biopsy specimens were obtained on each occasion by endoscopy, and the first two were used for comparison with suction biopsy samples. Median total area of individual biopsy samples obtained by the two procedures was not different (21.3 vs. 22.5 mm2; P = 0.027). Muscularis mucosae was obtained more commonly with grasp biopsies (P < 0.001), and no difference was observed for the presence of three or more villuscrypt units, degree of haemorrhage, or optimal orientation. Two suction biopsy procedures and one grasp biopsy procedure were inadequate for diagnosis.

Conclusions: Endoscopic grasp biopsies are perfectly adequate for the assessment of small intestinal histology. In addition, endoscopy affords advantage in diagnosis of other upper gastrointestinal disease with avoidance of radiologic screening involved with the suction capsule technique.

University Department Paediatric Gastroenterology, Royal Free Hospital, London, United Kingdom

Received December 17, 1998; revised May 21, 1999; accepted May 21, 1999.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Mike Thomson, University Department of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Royal Free Hospital Trust, Pond St., London NW3 2QG, UK.

© 1999 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology,