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Analytical Cellular Pathology
Volume 25 (2003), Issue 4, Pages 173-185

Application of Multilevel Models to Morphometric Data. Part 1. Linear Models and Hypothesis Testing

O. Tsybrovskyy1 and A. Berghold2

1Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Graz, Austria
2Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics and Documentation, University of Graz, Austria

Received 17 October 2002; Accepted 28 April 2003

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Morphometric data usually have a hierarchical structure (i.e., cells are nested within patients), which should be taken into consideration in the analysis. In the recent years, special methods of handling hierarchical data, called multilevel models (MM), as well as corresponding software have received considerable development. However, there has been no application of these methods to morphometric data yet. In this paper we report our first experience of analyzing karyometric data by means of MLwiN – a dedicated program for multilevel modeling. Our data were obtained from 34 follicular adenomas and 44 follicular carcinomas of the thyroid. We show examples of fitting and interpreting MM of different complexity, and draw a number of interesting conclusions about the differences in nuclear morphology between follicular thyroid adenomas and carcinomas. We also demonstrate substantial advantages of multilevel models over conventional, single‐level statistics, which have been adopted previously to analyze karyometric data. In addition, some theoretical issues related to MM as well as major statistical software for MM are briefly reviewed.