Context.—

Serosal involvement (pT4a category) and lymphovascular invasion have prognostic significance in colorectal carcinoma, but are subject to interobserver variation in assessment.

Objectives.—

To provide the first large-scale assessment of interobserver variability in pT4a category and lymphovascular invasion reporting in real-world practice and to explore the impact of information from guidelines on variability in reporting these features.

Design.—

Analysis of 1555 consecutive synoptic reports of colorectal carcinoma was performed using multivariate logistic regression. Interobserver variability before and after the presentation of guideline information was assessed using an image-based survey.

Results.—

Significant differences in the odds of reporting pT4a versus pT3 category, detecting lymphovascular invasion of any type, and detecting large vessel invasion were identified among hospital sites and for individual pathologists compared with the median pathologist at the same site. Consistent with these results, interobserver agreement was only moderate in the image-based survey regarding T4a staging and lymphovascular invasion (all κ ≤ 0.57). The provision of information from guidelines did not tend to increase interobserver agreement in the survey, though responses in favor of using an elastic stain increased following recommendations for their use. However, when observers were provided with elastic-stained images, interobserver agreement remained only moderate (κ = 0.55).

Conclusions.—

Real-world reporting of pT4a category and lymphovascular invasion shows substantial variability at both local and regional levels. Our study underscores the need to address these features in quality initiatives, and provides a novel method through which existing synoptic data can be harnessed to monitor reporting patterns and provide individualized feedback.

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Author notes

Drs Yang and Schaeffer contributed equally to this work.

Funding was provided by the University of British Columbia Anatomical Pathology Residency Program.

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

Presented at the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology Annual Meeting; March 3, 2020; Los Angeles, California.