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Limits of quantitation for laboratory assays

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Summary. 

A common problem with laboratory assays is that a measurement of a substance in a test sample becomes relatively imprecise as the concentration decreases. A standard solution is to establish lower limits for reliable measurement. A quantitation limit is a level above which a measurement has sufficient precision to be reliably reported. The paper proposes a new approach to defining the limit of quantitation for the case where a linear calibration curve is used to estimate actual concentrations from measured values. The approach is based on the relative precision of the estimated concentration, using the delta method to approximate the precision. A graphical display is proposed for the assessment of estimated concentrations, as well as the overall reliability of the calibration curve. Our research is motivated by a clinical inhalation experiment. Comparisons are made between the approach proposed and two standard methods, using both real and simulated data.
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Keywords: Calibration; Delta method; Detection limit; Limit of quantitation; Linear regression

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, and University of Rochester Medical Center, USA

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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