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1.  Progression of Biopsy-Measured Liver Fibrosis in Untreated Patients with Hepatitis C Infection: Non-Markov Multistate Model Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20104.
Background
Fibrosis stages from liver biopsies reflect liver damage from hepatitis C infection, but analysis is challenging due to their ordered but non-numeric nature, infrequent measurement, misclassification, and unknown infection times.
Methods
We used a non-Markov multistate model, accounting for misclassification, with multiple imputation of unknown infection times, applied to 1062 participants of whom 159 had multiple biopsies. Odds ratios (OR) quantified the estimated effects of covariates on progression risk at any given time.
Results
Models estimated that progression risk decreased the more time participants had already spent in the current stage, African American race was protective (OR 0.75, 95% confidence interval 0.60 to 0.95, p = 0.018), and older current age increased risk (OR 1.33 per decade, 95% confidence interval 1.15 to 1.54, p = 0.0002). When controlled for current age, older age at infection did not appear to increase risk (OR 0.92 per decade, 95% confidence interval 0.47 to 1.79, p = 0.80). There was a suggestion that co-infection with human immunodeficiency virus increased risk of progression in the era of highly active antiretroviral treatment beginning in 1996 (OR 2.1, 95% confidence interval 0.97 to 4.4, p = 0.059). Other examined risk factors may influence progression risk, but evidence for or against this was weak due to wide confidence intervals. The main results were essentially unchanged using different assumed misclassification rates or imputation of age of infection.
Discussion
The analysis avoided problems inherent in simpler methods, supported the previously suspected protective effect of African American race, and suggested that current age rather than age of infection increases risk. Decreasing risk of progression with longer time already spent in a stage was also previously found for post-transplant progression. This could reflect varying disease activity, with recent progression indicating active disease and high risk, while longer time already spent in a stage indicates quiescent disease and low risk.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020104
PMCID: PMC3103523  PMID: 21637766
2.  Estimating Complex Multi-State Misclassification Rates for Biopsy-Measured Liver Fibrosis in Patients with Hepatitis C* 
For both clinical and research purposes, biopsies are used to classify liver damage known as fibrosis on an ordinal multi-state scale ranging from no damage to cirrhosis. Misclassification can arise from reading error (misreading of a specimen) or sampling error (the specimen does not accurately represent the liver). Studies of biopsy accuracy have not attempted to synthesize these two sources of error or to estimate actual misclassification rates from either source. Using data from two studies of reading error and two of sampling error, we find surprisingly large possible misclassification rates, including a greater than 50% chance of misclassification for one intermediate stage of fibrosis. We find that some readers tend to misclassify consistently low or consistently high, and some specimens tend to be misclassified low while others tend to be misclassified high. Non-invasive measures of liver fibrosis have generally been evaluated by comparison to simultaneous biopsy results, but biopsy appears to be too unreliable to be considered a gold standard. Non-invasive measures may therefore be more useful than such comparisons suggest. Both stochastic uncertainty and uncertainty about our model assumptions appear to be substantial. Improved studies of biopsy accuracy would include large numbers of both readers and specimens, greater effort to reduce or eliminate reading error in studies of sampling error, and careful estimation of misclassification rates rather than less useful quantities such as kappa statistics.
doi:10.2202/1557-4679.1139
PMCID: PMC2810974  PMID: 20104258
fibrosis; hepatitis C; kappa statistic; latent variables; misclassification
3.  Estimating Complex Multi-State Misclassification Rates for Biopsy-Measured Liver Fibrosis in Patients with Hepatitis C 
For both clinical and research purposes, biopsies are used to classify liver damage known as fibrosis on an ordinal multi-state scale ranging from no damage to cirrhosis. Misclassification can arise from reading error (misreading of a specimen) or sampling error (the specimen does not accurately represent the liver). Studies of biopsy accuracy have not attempted to synthesize these two sources of error or to estimate actual misclassification rates from either source. Using data from two studies of reading error and two of sampling error, we find surprisingly large possible misclassification rates, including a greater than 50% chance of misclassification for one intermediate stage of fibrosis. We find that some readers tend to misclassify consistently low or consistently high, and some specimens tend to be misclassified low while others tend to be misclassified high. Non-invasive measures of liver fibrosis have generally been evaluated by comparison to simultaneous biopsy results, but biopsy appears to be too unreliable to be considered a gold standard. Non-invasive measures may therefore be more useful than such comparisons suggest. Both stochastic uncertainty and uncertainty about our model assumptions appear to be substantial. Improved studies of biopsy accuracy would include large numbers of both readers and specimens, greater effort to reduce or eliminate reading error in studies of sampling error, and careful estimation of misclassification rates rather than less useful quantities such as kappa statistics.
doi:10.2202/1557-4679.1139
PMCID: PMC2810974  PMID: 20104258

Results 1-3 (3)