Validation of a Cytotechnologist Manual Counting Service for the Ki67 Index in Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Pancreas and Gastrointestinal Tract.

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- Pathologists routinely assess Ki67 immunohistochemistry to grade gastrointestinal and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Unfortunately, manual counts of the Ki67 index are very time consuming and eyeball estimation has been criticized as unreliable. Manual Ki67 counts performed by cytotechnologists could potentially save pathologist time and improve accuracy.


- To assess the concordance between manual Ki67 index counts performed by cytotechnologists versus eyeball estimates and manual Ki67 counts by pathologists.


- One Ki67 immunohistochemical stain was retrieved from each of 18 archived gastrointestinal or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor resections. We compared pathologists' Ki67 eyeball estimates on glass slides and printed color images with manual counts performed by 3 cytotechnologists and gold standard manual Ki67 index counts by 3 pathologists.


- Tumor grade agreement between pathologist image eyeball estimate and gold standard pathologist manual count was fair (κ = 0.31; 95% CI, 0.030-0.60). In 9 of 20 cases (45%), the mean pathologist eyeball estimate was 1 grade higher than the mean pathologist manual count. There was almost perfect agreement in classifying tumor grade between the mean cytotechnologist manual count and the mean pathologist manual count (κ = 0.910; 95% CI, 0.697-1.00). In 20 cases, there was only 1 grade disagreement between the 2 methods. Eyeball estimation by pathologists required less than 1 minute, whereas manual counts by pathologists required a mean of 17 minutes per case.


- Eyeball estimation of the Ki67 index has a high rate of tumor grade misclassification compared with manual counting. Cytotechnologist manual counts are accurate and save pathologist time.

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