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Gastrointest Endosc. 1999 Oct;50(4):468-74.

Accuracy of pathologic interpretation of colorectal polyps by general pathologists in community practice.

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Departments of Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.



The histologic features of colorectal polyps often guide colonoscopic surveillance and the need for surgical intervention. Our objective was to evaluate the pathologic interpretation of colorectal polyps by general pathologists in community practice.


Twenty histologic slides of colorectal polyps were reviewed by 20 randomly selected general pathologists in community practice. There were 5 malignant polyps, 9 adenomas, and 6 miscellaneous polyps.


Cancer was correctly identified in 91% of readings and adenoma in 94%. The grade of differentiation of cancer was provided in 55% of readings, and comment regarding whether the resection margin was free of cancer was made by 50% of pathologists. Tubular adenoma was called tubulovillous or villous in 35% of readings, but tubulovillous or villous adenoma was seldom (2%) called tubular. High-grade dysplasia was correctly identified in 47% of 60 readings, was called invasive cancer in 22%, and was missed in 31%. Among miscellaneous polyps, hyperplastic polyp was correctly recognized in 75% of cases, and inflammatory polyp and juvenile polyp each were recognized by 16 of 20 pathologists (80%). Peutz-Jeghers hamartoma was identified by 4 of 20 pathologists (20%), and the polypoid phase of solitary rectal ulcer syndrome was recognized by 2 pathologists (10%).


Areas of strength with regard to interpretation of colon polyps by general pathologists in community practice included identification of cancer, adenoma, and certain non-neoplastic polyps (e.g., inflammatory and juvenile polyps). Areas of weakness included lack of comment on cancer differentiation and proximity to the resection line, erroneous identification of high-grade dysplasia, and identification of rare lesions. The results of this study suggest areas on which to focus continuing education and continuous quality improvement efforts with regard to polyp interpretation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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