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"Why would biopsy results sent to me differ from pathology report?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy would biopsy results sent to me differ from pathology report?


I went to the gastroenterologist after experiencing bloody diarrhea. Had a sigmoidoscopy and later mailed a letter stating: "biopsy result: ulcerative colitis." Given mesalamine enemas and scheduled for six-week follow-up. But when I went for that appointment, my doctor said, "no, you don't have UC." He referenced the pathology report as evidence, which I then viewed.The report stated that the biopsy results showed "no evidence of chronicity," and while it was *possible* that it was early IBD it was more likely "infectious colitis." Surprised me b/c the results I was mailed were contrary to the results listed on the report and I was medicated for UC. I am concerned that human error was at play here but I am trying to give my doctor the benefit of the doubt. Is there any reason other than human error that I would be mailed a letter providing biopsy results very different from those in the pathology report? The letter to me had clearly stated "biopsy results," not clinical diagnosis.


It sounds like a very frustrating situation, especially as you were started on treatment for something that it turns out you may not have. Any time you have a concern about your medical care or health, the best place to start with is a trusted physician, for many people their primary care physician. In this case, it would be very reasonable for you to schedule an appointment with the gastroenterologist to go over your concerns, but if you feel that you might be more comfortable talking with someone else, that is also very reasonable. In order to determine what happened, you will likely need to talk through your presentation and then look at your medical record with a physician. You or your doctors can always obtain a copy of your medical record, and hopefully going over everything in a systematic and thorough way will help relieve any concerns that you have. Overall, a pathology report is often only part of a clinical diagnosis. The pathology findings are put into context with the patient's clinical presentation and other laboratory findings. Sometimes this can lead to some confusion between microscopic findings and an exact diagnosis. However, you certainly do want to feel comfortable with your doctors and with your treatment plan moving forward; scheduling a visit with your doctor to discuss further is a very sensible place to start.

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