In pathology, columnar mucosa refers to a tissue that is covered by tall, column-shaped cells with nuclei (the part of the cell that holds the genetic material) located toward the bottom of the cell. These cells are usually taller than they are wide and they contain a substance called mucin.
Columnar mucosa is normally found in various parts of the body, including the digestive system, respiratory system, and reproductive system. In the digestive system, this type of mucosa is found in the lining of the stomach and intestines, where it secretes mucus to protect the underlying tissues from the acidic environment and digestive enzymes. In the respiratory system, it is found in the large and small airways, where it helps to trap and remove foreign particles and microorganisms. In the reproductive system, columnar mucosa is found in the lining of the uterus and fallopian tubes, where it helps to support and transport sperm and fertilized eggs.
It is normal to find columnar mucosa at the end of the esophagus in an area called the gastroesophageal junction. In this area, this type of mucosa is often seen with squamous mucosa which covers most of the esophagus. Doctors often perform biopsies of the gastroesophageal junction to look for a disease called Barrett’s esophagus. In Barrett’s esophagus, the normal columnar mucosa of the gastroesophageal contains specialized goblet cells that are normally found in the intestines. This change from normal columnar mucosa to goblet cell-containing intestinal-type mucosa is called intestinal metaplasia.
This article was written by doctors to help you read and understand your pathology report. Contact us if you have questions about this article or your pathology report. For a complete introduction to your pathology report, read this article.