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Keywords:

  • Barrett's esophagus;
  • cardiac mucosa;
  • gastroesophageal junction;
  • gastroesophageal reflux;
  • histology;
  • intestinal metaplasia

SUMMARY.  There is controversy as to whether oxynto-cardiac mucosa (OCM), cardiac mucosa (CM) and intestinal metaplasia (IM) found in the gastroesophageal-junction region line the anatomic stomach, esophagus or both. A total of 785 retroflex biopsies taken at the endoscopic gastroesophageal junction in 244 patients were evaluated for the presence of gland ducts and multilayered epithelium which are two recognized markers of esophageal mucosa. Oxyntic mucosa was found in 287 biopsies, OCM in 283, CM in 158, IM in 30 and squamous epithelium in 53 (some biopsies had more than one epithelial type). Esophageal gland ducts and multilayered epithelium were absent in all biopsies with oxyntic mucosa. Sixty-four (13.6%) of 471 biopsies with OCM, CM and IM contained esophageal gland ducts, and 68 of 471 (14.4%) contained multilayered epithelium. Ninety-eight of 471 (20.8%) biopsies contained either gland ducts or multilayered epithelium. This study shows that 20.8% of biopsies at the gastroesophageal junction with OCM, CM and IM can be definitively characterized as lining the anatomic esophagus by the finding of gland ducts and multilayered epithelium. The absence of these markers in oxyntic mucosa confirms this epithelium as gastric. The presence of gland ducts and multilayered epithelium can be used by pathologists to objectively ascribe an esophageal or gastric location to a biopsy from the gastroesophageal junction.