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Gastrointest Endosc. 1995 Dec;42(6):565-72.

Value of endobiliary brush cytology and biopsies for the diagnosis of malignant bile duct stenosis: results of a prospective study.

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Department of Digestive Diseases, Hôpital Edouard Herriot, Lyon, France.



Before considering a nonsurgical method of management of a bile duct stenosis, a tissue diagnosis is highly desirable. In a prospective study we have evaluated the feasibility and reliability of endobiliary brush cytology and biopsies performed at the time of endoscopic retrograde cholangiography.


Two hundred thirty-three consecutive patients underwent an attempt at endobiliary brush cytology and biopsies of bile duct stenosis when no mass was detected on ultrasound and CT scan.


The material for cytology was sufficient for analysis in 210 cases (90%) and biopsies were obtained in 128 cases (55%). One hundred fifteen patients had both cytology and biopsies (49%). For the diagnosis of malignant stenosis, the sensitivity was 35% for cytology, 43% for biopsies, and 63% for the combination of cytology and biopsies. For both cytology and biopsies, the specificity was 97%. In the cases of cancer primarily involving the bile ducts, the sensitivity was 86% when combining both cytology and biopsies.


Endobiliary sampling is technically difficult and has a limited sensitivity for the diagnosis of malignant biliary stenosis. Biopsies should be combined with cytology to increase the sensitivity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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