Quality and Quantity of the Elbow Arthroscopy Literature: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Brandon J. Erickson, Peter N. Chalmers, Gregory L. Cvetanovich, Rachel M. Frank, Anthony A. Romeo, Joshua D. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The purpose of this article is to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of elbow arthroscopy literature to answer the following questions: "Across the world, what demographic of patients are undergoing elbow arthroscopy, what are the most common indications for elbow arthroscopy, and how good is the evidence?" The authors hypothesized that patients who undergo elbow arthroscopy will be chiefly age <40 years, the most common indication for elbow arthroscopy will be a release/débridement, and the evidence regarding elbow arthroscopy will be poor. Also, no significant differences will exist in elbow arthroscopy publications, subjects, outcomes, and techniques based on continent/country of publication. A systematic review was registered with the International Prospective Register of Ongoing Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) and performed with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines using 3 publicly available databases. Therapeutic clinical outcome investigations reporting arthroscopic elbow outcomes with levels of evidence I-IV were eligible for inclusion. All study, subject, and surgical technique demographics were analyzed and compared between continents and countries. Statistics were calculated using 1-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) to compare between continents and Pearson's correlation coefficients to evaluate changes over time. In total, 112 studies were included (3093 subjects; 3168 elbows; 64% male; mean 34.9 ± 14.68 years. Mean 33.4 ± 26.02 months follow-up. Most studies were level IV evidence (94.6%) and had a low Modified Coleman Methodology Score (MCMS) (mean 28.1 ± 8.06). From 1985 through 2013, the number of publications significantly increased with time (P = .004) in all continents. The 3 most common indications for elbow arthroscopy were osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), lateral epicondylitis, and release and débridement. The number of reported cases for the 3 most common indications significantly increased over time but did not differ between regions (P > .05 in all cases). Thirty-two studies (28.6%) reported clinical outcomes, the most common of which was the Mayo Elbow Performance Score, reported in 9.8% of studies. The quantity, but not the quality, of arthroscopic elbow publications has significantly increased over time. Most patients undergo elbow arthroscopy for lateral epicondylitis, OCD, and release and débridement. Pathology and indications do not appear to differ geographically with more men undergoing elbow arthroscopy than women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E290-E298
JournalAmerican journal of orthopedics (Belle Mead, N.J.)
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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