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Diagnosing Barrett’s esophagus: reliability of clinical and pathologic diagnoses

BACKGROUND: The accuracy of a Barrett’s esophagus diagnosis is not well studied. OBJECTIVE: Our purpose was to evaluate the accuracy of a clinical Barrett’s esophagus diagnosis and the reproducibility of an esophageal intestinal metaplasia diagnosis. METHODS: All patients with a Barrett’s esophagus diagnosis between 1994 and 2005 were identified by use of International Classification of Disease (ICD) and Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED) coding. Subsets received manual record review (endoscopy/pathology reports), slide review by a referral pathologist (interrater reliability), and 2 blinded reviews by the same pathologist (intrarater reliability). SETTING: An integrated health services delivery system. MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS: Accuracy of electronic clinical diagnosis and reproducibility of esophageal intestinal metaplasia diagnosis. RESULTS: A total of 2470 patients coded with Barrett’s esophagus underwent record review; a subgroup (616) received manual pathology slide review. Review confirmed a Barrett’s esophagus diagnosis for 1533 (61.9%) patients: 437 of 798 subjects (54.8%) with a SNOMED diagnosis alone, 153 of 671 subjects (26.8%) with an ICD diagnosis alone, and 940 of 1101 subjects (85%) who had both a SNOMED and an ICD diagnosis. The same metaplasia diagnosis occurred with 88.3% of subjects (original vs referral pathologist, interrater reliability; kappa = .42, 95% CI, 0.34-0.48). The referral pathologist made the same metaplasia diagnosis twice for a given patient for 88.6% of subjects (intrarater reliability, 2 reviews by same pathologist; kappa = 0.65, 95% CI, 0.35-0.93). LIMITATIONS: The accuracy of a Barrett’s esophagus diagnosis likely represents the minimum number, given the strict criteria. CONCLUSIONS: A community pathologist’s diagnosis of esophageal intestinal metaplasia is likely to be confirmed by a referral pathologist. Electronic diagnoses of Barrett’s esophagus overestimate the prevalence, although they are usually confirmed in patients with both a SNOMED and ICD diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus.

Authors: Corley DA; Kubo A; DeBoer J; Rumore GJ

Gastrointest Endosc. 2009 May;69(6):1004-10. Epub 2009 Jan 18.

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