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Acta Anaesthesiol Belg. 2000;51(1):43-50.

Case reports in anesthesiology: their trend through 17 years.

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Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biometry-Scientific Direction, IRCCS Policlinico S. Matteo, Pavia, Italy.


The study objective was to delineate the trend of case reports (the simplest of the descriptive forms of study) in the anesthesiological literature by analyzing the frequency of publication, and citation, and especially of the place of citation of a sample of published case reports. It is our opinion that case report in anesthesia is particularly suitable for this specialty rather than for others and is often the first signal of a complication, an adverse event, an anesthetic problem in rare disease and alerts other anesthesiologists to the possibility of unexpected events.


We analyzed the case reports published on an Anesthesiological journal placed in the middle in term of Impact Factor, from January 1980 to December 1997. Citations of each case report were obtained using computer searches of the Science Citation Index (SCI). For each of these case reports we collected in a custom-designed data base the following data: year of publication, number of authors, number of citations per year, place of citation, type of article quoting the case report, number of self-citations, year of first citation.


We identified 637 case reports and 1946 citations. The number of case reports increased through the years up to a peak in 1994-95 and the same trend was observed for citations and self-citations, the number of authors per case report was < or = 4 in 90.4%; 74.2% of total case reports cited were first cited within two years of publication, while 34.7% were never cited. The type of article quoting the case reports has been, in the majority of cases, an original article.


The analysed case reports and the number of citations can give us information about the importance of a clinical situation at a particular time.

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