The importance of biopsy sampling practices in the pathologic evaluation of gastrointestinal disorders

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Purpose of review

To summarize the literature regarding appropriate endoscopic sampling and surveillance protocols for common inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract. Gastroenterologists increasingly use endoscopy with mucosal biopsy to detect inflammatory diseases, assess response to therapy, and monitor for progression to dysplasia.

Recent findings

Many diseases show a patchy distribution in the digestive tract and there may be poor correlation between the endoscopic appearance and presence of histologic abnormalities. Indeed, a clinician's ability to render a diagnosis is limited by endoscopic mucosal sampling. The appropriate number of tissue samples and required biopsy sites are not established for many gastrointestinal disorders, and adherence to guidelines may not yield a reliable diagnosis in all cases.


We discuss the evidence supporting current recommendations and emerging endoscopic techniques for the evaluation of eosinophilic esophagitis, Barrett esophagus, chronic gastritis, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

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