The use of DNA fingerprinting to resolve conflicting results in patients with suspected gastrointestinal malignancy

Sameer Islam, Ethan D. Miller, Neal Patel, Giovanni De Petris, Edward W. Highsmith, David E. Fleischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


GOALS: To underscore the utility of DNA fingerprinting for clarifying disparate results from endoscopic pathologic specimens. BACKGROUND: Occasionally, serially obtained gastrointestinal biopsies may yield inconsistent results. These discrepancies pose a dilemma for gastroenterologists and their patients, especially when malignancy is a consideration. STUDY: Patients referred to our tertiary care center from outside institutions had undergone endoscopically obtained esophageal biopsies showing malignancy, verified by pathologists at both our site and from the referring center. Repeat endoscopic biopsies at our center did not show malignancy. To verify that different sets of biopsies came from the same patient, we performed a polymerase chain reaction-based analysis comparing the 2 specimens. This analysis, called DNA fingerprinting, can show a high degree of certainty whether 2 specimens came from the same patient. RESULTS: In each case, DNA fingerprinting verified a match, laying the groundwork for intervention. One patient underwent endoscopic radiofrequency ablation to the esophageal mucosa involved. Another underwent esophagectomy with partial gastrectomy. Both are doing well clinically and remain cancer-free on follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: DNA fingerprinting is a powerful and a relatively inexpensive tool. Usually, only small amounts of tissue are required, and even degraded or archival tissue is adequate. DNA fingerprinting can be an important tool in the gastroenterologist's arsenal to help clarify conflicting results, allowing the patient and physician to move forward with the management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-241
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of clinical gastroenterology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013


  • Barrett esophagus
  • DNA fingerprinting
  • esophageal cancer
  • intestinal metaplasia
  • malignancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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