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Big data registries in spine surgery research: the lurking dangers
  1. Chad F Claus,
  2. Evan Lytle,
  3. Daniel A Carr,
  4. Doris Tong
  1. Division of Neurosurgery, Ascension Providence Hospital, Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine, Southfield, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chad F Claus, Neurosurgery, Ascension Providence Hospital, Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine, Southfield, MI 48075, USA; chad.claus{at}


Spine surgery research has improved considerably over the last few decades. Its’ most recent growth is in large part due to the mounting increase in studies conducted using national databases and registries. With easy access to a large number of patients, the benefit of these registries has become evident. However, as with any research, this type of data must be used responsibly with the appropriate strengths and limitations kept in mind. Inappropriate use of these registries continues to be a growing concern as potentially false or inaccurate conclusions can adversely impact clinical practice. It is, therefore, the author and the readers’ responsibility to acknowledge and understand the limitations of this type of data. Knowledge of methodological requirements in the use and analyses of registry data is essential to ensuring quality evidence with proper interpretation.

  • statistics & research methods
  • neurosurgery
  • surgery
  • qualitative research
  • spine

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  • Contributors All authors had a substantial contribution to the design, drafting, critically revising with final approval of the published draft. All authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer All authors have no conflicts of interest or sources of funding to disclose.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.