The Value of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses in Surgery

Simon R. Knight
2021 European Surgical Research  
<b><i>Background:</i></b> Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are generally regarded as sitting atop the hierarchy of clinical evidence. The unbiased summary of current evidence that a systematic review provides, along with the increased statistical power from larger numbers of patients, is invaluable in guiding clinical decision-making and development of practice guidelines. Surgical specialties have historically lagged behind other areas of medicine in the application of evidence-based
more » ... ne, perhaps due to the unique challenges faced in the conduct of surgical clinical trials. These challenges extend to the conduct of systematic reviews, due to issues with the quality and heterogeneity of the underlying literature. <b><i>Summary:</i></b> Recent years have seen an improvement in the quality of randomized controlled trials in surgical topics and an explosion in the publication of systematic reviews. This review explores recent trends in systematic reviews in surgery and discussed some of the aspects in conducting and interpreting reviews that are unique to surgical topics, including blinding, surgical heterogeneity and learning curves, patient and clinician preference, and industry involvement. <b><i>Key Messages:</i></b> Clinical trials, and therefore systematic reviews, of surgical interventions pose unique challenges which are important to consider when conducting them or applying the findings to clinical practice. Despite the challenges, systematic reviews still represent the best level of evidence for development of surgical practice guidelines.
doi:10.1159/000519593 pmid:34710877 fatcat:u6hhbfh5ofekzml6zjp2won4xm