The Significance of Small Intestinal Epithelium in Gastric Antral Biopsies in Children

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Abstract

Intestinal metaplasia of the gastric antrum is common in adults with chronic gastritis and occurs in Helicobacter-associated gastritis in children. This study examined the frequency and clinical correlates of intestinal epithelium in 1690 consecutive antral biopsies obtained from children over a 2-year period in a tertiary pediatric care facility. Intestinal epithelium in gastric glands not associated with overlying villi was present in 22 (1.3%) biopsies. These came from 20 patients, 2-17 years of age, none of whom had clinical or histologic evidence of Helicobacter infection or significant chronic gastritis. Eight (40%) had an antral pancreatic rest, 8 had some other localized antral abnormality, and 4 were endoscopically normal. Four additional patients with a pancreatic rest had no intestinal epithelium. Six surgically resected rests and 2 rests found at autopsy were also reviewed. Heterotopic intestinal epithelium was present in 1 of the 2 postmortem specimens but was absent from all 6 surgically resected lesions. No intestinal epithelium was present in 67 antral biopsies with Helicobacter gastritis observed during this same period. Although the intestinal epithelium in these patients could be metaplastic, it more likely represents inadvertent sampling of the gastroduodenal junction induced by a lesion in the distal antrum or a focus of heterotopic epithelium and might best be addressed in the surgical pathology report by a comment to this effect. The distinction from metaplasia is more than semantic, because a diagnosis of intestinal metaplasia can have adverse clinical implications and should be made with caution in a child.

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