The Top 100 Classic Papers in Lumbar Spine Surgery

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Abstract

Study Design.

Bibliometric review of the literature.

Objective.

To analyze and quantify the most frequently cited papers in lumbar spine surgery and to measure their impact on the entire lumbar spine literature.

Summary of Background Data.

Lumbar spine surgery is a dynamic and complex field. Basic science and clinical research remain paramount in understanding and advancing the field. While new literature is published at increasing rates, few studies make long-lasting impacts.

Methods.

The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge was searched for citations of all papers relevant to lumbar spine surgery. The number of citations, authorship, year of publication, journal of publication, country of publication, and institution were recorded for each paper.

Results.

The most cited paper was found to be the classic paper from 1990 by Boden et al that described magnetic resonance imaging findings in individuals without back pain, sciatica, and neurogenic claudication showing that spinal stenosis and herniated discs can be incidentally found when scanning patients. The second most cited study similarly showed that asymptomatic patients who underwent lumbar spine magnetic resonance imaging frequently had lumbar pathology. The third most cited paper was the 2000 publication of Fairbank and Pynsent reviewing the Oswestry Disability Index, the outcome-measure questionnaire most commonly used to evaluate low back pain. The majority of the papers originate in the United States (n = 58), and most were published in Spine (n = 63). Most papers were published in the 1990s (n = 49), and the 3 most common topics were low back pain, biomechanics, and disc degeneration.

Conclusion.

This report identifies the top 100 papers in lumbar spine surgery and acknowledges those individuals who have contributed the most to the advancement of the study of the lumbar spine and the body of knowledge used to guide evidence-based clinical decision making in lumbar spine surgery today.

Conclusion.

Level of Evidence: 3

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