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Papers of the Week

2020 Mar 06


Pearls for Interpreting Neurosurgical Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: Lessons From a Collaborative Effort.


Lu VM, Graffeo CS, Perry A, Link MJ, Meyer FB, Dawood HY, Mekary RA, Smith TR
Neurosurgery. 2020 Mar 06.
PMID: 32140720.


Systematic reviews and meta-analyses in the neurosurgical literature have surged in popularity over the last decade. It is our concern that, without a renewed effort to critically interpret and appraise these studies as high or low quality, we run the risk of the quality and value of evidence-based medicine in neurosurgery being misinterpreted. Correspondingly, we have outlined 4 major domains to target in interpreting neurosurgical systematic reviews and meta-analyses based on the lessons learned by a collaboration of clinicians and academics summarized as 4 pearls. The domains of (1) heterogeneity, (2) modeling, (3) certainty, and (4) bias in neurosurgical systematic reviews and meta-analyses were identified as aspects in which the authors' approaches have changed over time to improve robustness and transparency. Examples of how and why these pearls were adapted were provided in areas of cranial neuralgia, spine, pediatric, and neuro-oncology to demonstrate how neurosurgical readers and writers may improve their interpretation of these domains. The incorporation of these pearls into practice will empower neurosurgical academics to effectively interpret systematic reviews and meta-analyses, enhancing the quality of our evidence-based medicine literature while maintaining a critical focus on the needs of the individual patients in neurosurgery.