Rigorous orthopaedic clinical research should not be an oxymoron. The
vitality of the orthopaedic specialty is critically dependent on well-designed
and well-conducted clinical research targeted at the important questions
facing orthopaedic surgeons and their patients. Randomized clinical trials are
widely accepted as the most scientifically valid design for clinical research.
Orthopaedic surgeons recognize this. Most would acknowledge that they search
for high-level evidence-based research at scientific meetings and in journal
publications. Most are sophisticated research evaluators who are aware that
prospective, randomized, blinded data collection with controlled comparison
provides the most valid evaluation of different surgical interventions.
Orthopaedic surgeons can identify the biases and weaknesses of research
reports and factor these into their interpretation of the results. In addition
to using research, many orthopaedic surgeons participate in the conduct of
clinical research. Generally, however, only a small percentage of orthopaedic
surgeons participate in randomized clinical trials.