BACKGROUND: Extreme values that arise for any reason, including those through nonlaboratory measurement procedure-related processes (inadequate mixing, evaporation, mislabeling), lead to outliers and inflate errors in recalibration studies. We present an approach termed iterative outlier removal (IOR) for identifying such outliers.
METHODS: We previously identified substantial laboratory drift in uric acid measurements in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study over time. Serum uric acid was originally measured in 1990–1992 on a Coulter DACOS instrument using an uricase-based measurement procedure. To recalibrate previous measured concentrations to a newer enzymatic colorimetric measurement procedure, uric acid was remeasured in 200 participants from stored plasma in 2011–2013 on a Beckman Olympus 480 autoanalyzer. To conduct IOR, we excluded data points >3 SDs from the mean difference. We continued this process using the resulting data until no outliers remained.
RESULTS: IOR detected more outliers and yielded greater precision in simulation. The original mean difference (SD) in uric acid was 1.25 (0.62) mg/dL. After 4 iterations, 9 outliers were excluded, and the mean difference (SD) was 1.23 (0.45) mg/dL. Conducting only one round of outlier removal (standard approach) would have excluded 4 outliers [mean difference (SD) = 1.22 (0.51) mg/dL]. Applying the recalibration (derived from Deming regression) from each approach to the original measurements, the prevalence of hyperuricemia (>7 mg/dL) was 28.5% before IOR and 8.5% after IOR.
CONCLUSIONS: IOR is a useful method for removal of extreme outliers irrelevant to recalibrating laboratory measurements, and identifies more extraneous outliers than the standard approach.
- Received for publication January 20, 2016.
- Accepted for publication April 4, 2016.
- © 2016 American Association for Clinical Chemistry