WATS3D versus forceps biopsy in screening for Barrett’s esophagus: experience in community endoscopy centers

Authors Yasmine Hussein Agha, Sachin Srinivasan, Jeffrey Hyder, Chelsea Wuthnow, Ali Taleb, Nathan Tofteland, William Kilgore, William Salyers.


Background Barrett’s esophagus (BE) is a premalignant condition diagnosed using systematic 4-quadrant forceps biopsies (FB) during endoscopy. This method is fraught with errors due to the randomness of sampling and variability among operators. Wide-area transepithelial sampling with 3-dimensional computer-assisted analysis (WATS3D) is an emerging technique used to collect esophageal samples. The aim of this study was to evaluate WATS3D as a diagnostic tool for detecting BE in addition to FB, compared to FB alone.

Methods A retrospective observational cohort study was conducted and included patients who underwent screening for BE with WATS3D and FB between January 2015 and January 2019 across 3 endoscopy centers in Wichita, Kansas. The FB specimens were reviewed by community pathologists, while the WATS3D samples were sent to CDX technology labs, NY.

Results A total of 108 patients were screened for BE using both modalities concurrently. FB and WATS3D detected 62 (57.4%) and 83 (76%) cases of BE, respectively. The absolute difference of 21 cases (18.6%) of BE was attributed to the addition of WATS3D. The number needed to test with WATS3D was 5. We divided the sample into 4 groups to compare the agreement across all groups: (FB–; WATS3D+), (FB–; WATS3D–), (FB+; WATS3D+), and (FB+ and WATS3D–). Overall agreement by kappa statistic was 0.74.

Conclusion WATS3D identified 21 cases of BE missed by FB. Using WATS3D in addition to FB increased the yield of BE during surveillance endoscopy, with no increase in complications.

Keywords Barrett’s esophagus, biopsy, cytodiagnosis, endoscopy, screening

Ann Gastroenterol 2021; 34 (2): 164-168

Original Articles