Indications for Surgery, Activities After Surgery, and Pain Are the Most Commonly Asked Questions in Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury and Reconstruction

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Arthrosc Sports Med Rehabil


PURPOSE: To leverage Google's search algorithms to summarize the most commonly asked questions regarding anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries and surgery.

METHODS: Six terms related to ACL tear and/or surgery were searched on a clean-installed Google Chrome browser. The list of questions and their associated websites on the Google search page were extracted after multiple search iterations performed in January of 2022. Questions and websites were categorized according to Rothwell's criteria. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Benchmark criteria were used to grade website quality and transparency. Descriptive statistics were provided. χ(2) and Student t-tests identified for categorical differences and differences in JAMA score, respectively (significance set at P < .05).

RESULTS: A total of 273 unique questions associated with 204 websites were identified. The most frequently asked questions involved Indications/Management (20.2%), Specific Activities (15.8%), and Pain (10.3%). The most common websites were Medical Practice (27.9%), Academic (23.5%), and Commercial (19.5%). In Academic websites, questions regarding Specific Activities were seldom included (4.7%) whereas questions regarding Pain were frequently addressed (39.3%, P = .027). Although average JAMA score was relatively high for Academic websites, the average combined score for medical and governmental websites was lower (P < .001) than nonmedical websites.

CONCLUSIONS: The most searched questions on Google regarding ACL tears or surgery related to indications for surgery, pain, and activities postoperatively. Health information resources stemmed from Medical Practice (27.9%) followed by Academic (23.5%) and Commercial (19.5%) websites. Medical websites had lower JAMA quality scores compared with nonmedical websites.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: These findings presented may assist physicians in addressing the most frequently searched questions while also guiding their patients to greater-quality resources regarding ACL injuries and surgery.

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