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Understanding Viral Load Assays for Cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr Virus


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Comparing Results

Slide 19

March 2010

Once the laboratory produces the result, the physician needs to interpret what the result means. To begin this discussion, I would like you to consider the following number comparisons.

  • Is 10 different than 15?
    • 15 is 5 units higher
    • 1.5 times higher
  • Is 10 very different than 100?
    • 100 is 90 units
    • 10 times higher

If these were dollar amounts, I would certainly choose 100, wouldn't you? Now, if the choice was between 500,000 and 500,005 dollars, I don't think I would mind which amount I received. Although this is like the first comparison, where the numbers were 5 units apart, the higher value is now only 1.00001 times higher.

In the final example, 500,000 and 500,090 they are 90 units apart, just like the 2nd example. However, whereas the numbers in the 2nd example seemed vastly different, these two numbers seem roughly equivalent, since the 500,090 is only 1.00018 times higher.

We will return to these numbers later, but the point thus far is that the value inherent to a result depends in large part on the range of possible values.

Comparing Results


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