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Thursday, March 1, 2001

Internet information on ACL, THA unreliable

An evaluation of Internet information on anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction or total knee arthroplasty (TKA) found most web sites were biased.

Coauthors of a study in scientific paper 67 said Wednesday they used three search engines (Excite, Yahoo! and Lycos) to generate a list of Internet addresses using the terms "anterior cruciate ligament" or "ACL" for ACL reconstruction and "total knee arthroplasty" or "knee replacement" for TKA.

A list of 68 ACL web sites and 44 TKA web sites common to all three search engines was generated by cross-referencing the first 300 web sites obtained from each engine. The author(s), date written, most recent update, intended audience, main purpose, number of references, accuracy of content, and investigator's overall impression were evaluated and recorded for each web site.

The investigators said that of the 112 web sites evaluated, 40 web sites were categorized as biased, and 17 contained inaccurate information. Only 25 web sites listed references.

The second phase of the study consisted of a questionnaire administered to 100 patients undergoing ACL surgery and 100 patients undergoing TKA. Forty-two ACL patients and 16 TKA patients used the Internet to find information related to their condition/surgery. Significant differences were found between the two groups in regard to patient age, level of education, and Internet utilization (p< .05).

The authors "found that a signficiant number of patients searched for information regarding their surgical procedures on the Internet" and that "much of the information available online (was) well-written and educational." However, they also found "a signficant number of web sites...include incomplete, misleading or inaccurate information" and suggested the importance of orthopaedic surgeons directing "patients to sites that (they) have personally evaluated and know to be well written and accurate."

Coauthors of the study are Terry M. Messer, MD; Steven H. Stern, MD; Alpesh A. Patel, MD; and Sara L. Edwards, MD, all of Northwestern Center for Orthopaedics, Chicago, Ill.

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Last modified 14/February/2001 by IS