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 Barrett's Esophagus Tutorial 
Definition of Barrett's Esophagus
Definition and Characteristics of Dysplasia in Barrett's Esophagus
Pitfalls in the diagnosis of dysplasia
Problems with Grading of Dysplasia in Barrett's Esophagus
    

Definition of Barrett’s Esophagus

The diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus requires both endoscopic and histologic evidence of metaplastic columnar epithelium. Endoscopically, there must be columnar epithelium within the esophagus. Histologically, the epithelium must be metaplastic, as defined by the presence of goblet cells. An Alcian blue stain at pH 2.5 stains the acidic mucin present in the goblet cells. The most common errors in the identification of goblet cells are: 1) "pseudogoblet" cells; and 2) Alcian blue positive cells that are not goblet cells.
 

Pseudogoblet cells are barrel-shaped gastric surface or foveolar cells that do not stain with Alcian blue. These cells commonly have a blush of eosinophilia, due to neutral mucin, on H&E stained sections, in contrast to the blush of basophilia, imparted by the acidic mucin in goblet cells.
 

Alcian blue positivity in a columnar cell does not necessarily indicate a metaplastic goblet cell; it should have a barrel shape. Other types of cells that can be alcian blue positive but which lack the barrel shape include: reactive gastric foveolar cells, which may be present in the pits and on the mucosal surface, mucous neck cells of the gastric glands, esophageal cardiac glands, and submucosal glands in the esophagus.
 

As stated above, the diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus requires both endoscopic and histologic evidence of metaplastic columnar epithelium. The significance of metaplastic columnar epithelium in a biopsy of the GE junction region when the endoscopist has not seen columnar epithelium within the esophagus has not been established.

 
 

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