Optimizing histopathologic evaluation of EMR specimens of Barrett's esophagus-related neoplasia: a randomized study of 3 specimen handling methods

A. Overwater, K. E. van der Meulen, Hannah T. Künzli, Erik J. Schoon, Jacques J.G.H.M. Bergman, G. Mihaela Raicu, Kees C.A. Seldenrijk, Bas L.A.M. Weusten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background and Aims: Endoscopic resection is the cornerstone of treatment of Barrett's esophagus (BE)-related neoplasia. However, accurate histopathologic evaluation of endoscopic resection specimens can be challenging, and the preferred specimen handling method remains unknown. Therefore, the aim of our study was to compare 3 different specimen handling methods for assessment of all clinically relevant histopathologic parameters and time required for specimen handling. Methods: In this multicenter, randomized study EMR specimens of BE-related neoplasia with no suspicion of submucosal invasion during endoscopy were randomized to 3 specimen handling methods: pinning on paraffin using needles, direct fixation in formalin without prior tissue handling, and the cassette technique (small box for enclosing specimens). The histopathologic evaluation scores were assessed by 2 dedicated GI pathologists blinded to the handling method. Results: Of the 126 randomized EMR specimens, 45 were assigned to pinning on paraffin, 41 to direct fixation in formalin, and 40 to the cassette technique. The percentages of specimens with overall optimal histopathologic evaluation scores were similar for the pinning method (98%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 88.0-99.9) and for no handling (90%; 95% CI, 76.9-97.3) but were significantly lower (64%; 95% CI, 47.2-78.8) for the cassette technique (P < .001). Time required for specimen handling was shortest when no handling method was used (P < .001 vs pinning and cassette). Conclusions: Both pinning on paraffin and direct fixation in formalin resulted in optimal histopathologic evaluation scores in a high proportion of specimens, whereas the cassette technique performs significantly worse, and its use in clinical daily practice should be discouraged. Given the significantly shorter handling time, direct fixation in formalin appears to be the preferred method over pinning on paraffin. However, the latter needs to be confirmed in larger studies with inclusion of all EMR specimens. (Clinical trial registration number: ISRCTN50525266.)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-392.e5
JournalGastrointestinal Endoscopy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • BE, Barrett's esophagus
  • CI, confidence interval
  • ER, endoscopic resection
  • IQR, interquartile range


Dive into the research topics of 'Optimizing histopathologic evaluation of EMR specimens of Barrett's esophagus-related neoplasia: a randomized study of 3 specimen handling methods'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this