Inter- and Intra-Observer Variability in Diagnosis of Oral Dysplasia

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, K.L.E.Society’s Institute of Dental Sciences, Bangalore, India.

2 Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, JSS Dental College, Mysore, India.

3 Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, K.L.E.Society’s Institute of Dental Sciences, Bangalore, India.


Background: Oral potentially malignant disorders (OPMDs) are lesions from which malignancy is more likely to develop that from other tissues. The potential for malignant transformation of OPMDs is estimated by determining the degree of dysplastic changes in the epithelium. Dysplasia grading has been criticized for lack of reproducibility and poor predictive value but is still considered the gold standard for diagnosing OPMDs. Since grading of dysplasia is based on architectural and cytological changes, there can be considerable inter- and intra-observer variability due to subjective impressions. This aim in this study was to assess the degree of agreement between two pathologists grading dysplasia in the same patients and review the existing grading system. Materials and Methods: In this hospital-based cross-sectional study, 100 patients with clinically diagnosed OPMDs were subjected to biopsy followed by histopathological examination. The slides were examined by two pathologists using WHO and binary systems of classification and both were blinded to the clinical and each other’s histological diagnosis. For statistical analysis the Chi square test was applied. Results: Statistical analysis showed poor inter-observer variability with P values of 0.8 using the WHO classification and 0.3 using the binary classification. Conclusion: Our study provides evidence that the existing systems for grading dysplasia are not competent to rule out subjectivity. There is a need for a classification system that can overcome this drawback.


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