Gastric mucosal atrophy: interobserver consistency using new criteria for classification and grading

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Background and aims:

Considerable difficulties persist amongst pathologists in agreeing on the presence and severity of gastric atrophy. An international group of pathologists pursued the following aims: (i) to generate an acceptable definition and a simple reproducible classification of gastric atrophy; and (ii) to develop guidelines for the recognition of atrophy useful for increasing agreement among observers.


After redefining atrophy as the ‘loss of appropriate glands’ and examining histological samples from different gastric compartments, three categories were identified: (i) negative; (ii) indefinite; (iii) atrophy, with and without intestinalization. Atrophy was graded on a three-level scale. Interobserver reproducibility of the classification was tested by κ statistics (general and weighted) in a series of 48 cases.


The medians of the general agreement and weighted κ values were 0.78 and 0.73, respectively. The weighted κ coefficients, obtained by cross-tabulating the evaluation of each pathologist against all others, were, with only one exception, > 0.4 (moderate to excellent agreement).


By using the definition of atrophy as the loss of appropriate glands and distinguishing the two main morphological entities of metaplastic and non-metaplastic types, a high level of agreement was achieved by a group of gastrointestinal pathologists trained in different cultural contexts.

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