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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
User's Guide to a Meta-Analysis about an Orthopaedic Implant
Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, McMaster University,Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
CLARITY Research Group, McMaster University, Department of Orthopedic Surgery Musculoskeletal Research Unit, Canada and Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Hamilton General Hospital, Canada
Meta-analyses can be an excellent method to summarize the existing literature of studies concerning orthopaedic implants and devices. It is important to understand how meta-analyses are conducted and to be able to evaluate whether a meta-analysis has strong methodological rigor to help with clinical decisions. This paper begins with an overview of what a meta-analysis is and why it is useful. The second section provides the important characteristics of conducting a meta-analysis. The third section will provide detail of how to interpret a meta-analysis, including topics such as the quality of the included studies, comparing the results between studies, pooling data, and how to interpret the results. The benefits and limitations are presented, along with recommendations of how to ensure future high-quality meta-analyses. Meta-analyses are useful for synthesizing the results of multiple primary studies and can provide excellent evidence for clinical decisions; however, it is important that methodological flaws are limited.
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