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Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2020 Jan 30. doi: 10.4103/sjg.SJG_381_19. [Epub ahead of print]

Eosinophil counts in colonic tissue eosinophilia: Investigating specificity and sensitivity of cutoff points and comparing two counting methods.

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Department of Histopathology, Microbiology and Forensic Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan.



The aim of this study was to investigate the specificity and sensitivity of eosinophil cutoff points defining the colonic tissue eosinophilia (TE) and compare the yield of reporting the highest count versus the mean of five high-power fields (HPFs).

Materials and Methods:

One hundred and seventy-one cases of colonic TE, including 22 primary eosinophilic colitis (PEC) cases, were compared to one hundred and twenty-one normal controls in the University of Jordan. The highest eosinophil count (EC) and the mean of five HPFs were recorded. The receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) analysis was used to find the cutoff point with the best sensitivity and specificity.


There was no significant advantage of counting five fields over counting the most densely populated HPF. Using 30 eosinophils per HPF achieved 80% sensitivity and 65% specificity. This point is close to the mean in normal controls plus one standard deviation (SD) (29 per HPF). However, there was overlap between normal counts and TE, using 30 as a cutoff point resulted in 35% false-positive rate. There was no reliable cutoff point to differentiate PEC from secondary TE.


We recommend reporting the highest EC in colonic biopsies and using 30 as a cutoff point, bearing in mind the overlap with normal and correlating with the clinical team to not treat asymptomatic patients. Clinicopathological correlation is essential to separate PEC from secondary TE.


Colon; eosinophils; primary eosinophilic colitis; tissue eosinophilia


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