Background: The volume of orthopaedic literature is increasing exponentially, becoming more widely scattered among journals. The rate of increase in orthopaedics is greater than other specialties.We aimed to identify the number of different journals an orthopaedic surgeon would need to read to stay up-to-date with current evidence. Method: We searched PubMed for all orthopaedic-related systematic reviews (SR) and randomized controlled trials (RCT) published in 2011 using MESH (Medical Subject Headings) terms. The search was based on the Australian Orthopaedic Association syllabus of March 2011. The results of the search were exported to EndNote, then Microsoft Excel. We then calculated the least number of journals needed to read 25%, 50% and 100% of the articles. This was done separately for SRs and RCTs. Results: We found 1400 orthopaedic RCTs spread over 392 journals. Ten journals contained 25% of the articles, 36 journals contained 50% and 114 journals contained 75%. Three hundred journals contained three or fewer RCTs. We found 354 orthopaedic-relevant SRs spread over 152 journals. Six journals contained 25% of the articles, 23 journals contained 50% and 63 journals contained 75%. Ninety-three journals contained only one SR. Conclusion: Our results demonstrate the vast scatter of orthopaedic research. Four orthopaedic RCTs are published every day. To read even 25% of the new RCTs and SRs published in orthopaedics, a surgeon would require a subscription to 13 differnt journals monthly, costly and time consuming endeavour.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/sarah_thorning/10/