Skip to main content
Log in

100 Most Cited Articles in Orthopaedic Surgery

  • Survey
  • Published:
Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®



Citation analysis reflects the recognition a work has received in the scientific community by its peers, and is a common method to determine ‘classic’ works in medical specialties.


We determined which published articles in orthopaedic journals have been most cited by other authors by ranking the 100 top-cited works. By analyzing characteristics of these articles, we intended to determine what qualities make an orthopaedic article important to the specialty. Finally, we determined if there was a change in level of evidence of studies on this list with time.


Science Citation Index Expanded was searched for citations to articles published in any of the 49 journals in the subject category “ORTHOPEDICS.” Each of the 49 journals was searched separately using the “cited reference search” to determine the 100 most often cited articles. Each article was reviewed for basic information including year of publication, country of origin, source journal of the article, article type, and level of evidence. We categorized the journal article by field of research where possible.


The number of citations ranged from 1748 to 353. The 100 most often cited articles in orthopaedic surgery were published in 11 of the 49 journals, spanning from general to more specific subspecialty journals. The majority of the papers (76) were clinical, with the remaining representing some type of basic science research. The most common level of evidence was IV (42 of the 76 studies). Of the 76 clinical articles, 27 introduced or tested classification systems or outcome measurement tools.


Authors aiming to write a highly cited article in an orthopaedic surgery journal will be favored by language of publication, source journal, country of origin, and introduction of a classification scheme or outcome tool.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1A–B
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Adams AB, Simonson D. Publication, citations, and impact factors of leading investigators in critical care medicine. Respir Care. 2004;49:276–281.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Available at: Accessed April 23, 2010.

  3. Baltussen A, Kindler CH. Citation classics in anesthetic journals. Anesth Analg. 2004;98:443–451, table of contents.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Baltussen A, Kindler CH. Citation classics in critical care medicine. Intensive Care Med. 2004;30:902–910.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Callaham M, Wears RL, Weber E. Journal prestige, publication bias, and other characteristics associated with citation of published studies in peer-reviewed journals. JAMA. 2002;287:2847–2850.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Callaham M, Weber E, Wears R. Related citation characteristics of research published in Emergency Medicine versus other scientific journals. Ann Emerg Med. 2001;38:513–517.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Cheek J, Garnham B, Quan J. What’s in a number? Issues in providing evidence of impact and quality of research(ers). Qual Health Res. 2006;16:423–435.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Cole S. Citation and the evaluation of individual scientists. Trends Biochem Sci. 1989;14:9–13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Evidence-Based Medicine Working Group. Evidence-based medicine: a new approach to teaching the practice of medicine. JAMA. 1992;268:2420–2425.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Fan JC, McGhee CN. Citation analysis of the most influential authors and ophthalmology journals in the field of cataract and corneal refractive surgery 2000–2004. Clin Experiment Ophthalmol. 2008;36:54–61.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Garfield E. Citation analysis as a tool in journal evaluation. Science. 1972;178:471–479.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Guimares JA, Carlini CR. Most cited papers in Toxicon. Toxicon. 2004;44:345–359.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Key JD. Citation classics: most-cited articles from Archives of PM&R. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1988;69:1058–1059.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Kuhn TS. Historical structure and scientific discovery. Science. 1962;136:760–764.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Lefaivre KA, Guy P, O’Brien PJ, Blachut PA, Shadgan B, Broekhuyse HM. Leading 20 at 20: top cited articles and authors in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma 1987–2007. J Orthop Trauma. 2010;24:53–58.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Loonen MP, Hage JJ, Kon M. Value of citation numbers and impact factors for analysis of plastic surgery research. Plast Reconstr Surg 2007;120:2082–2091; discussion 2092–2094.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Loonen MP, Hage JJ, Kon M. Plastic surgery classics: characteristics of 50 top-cited articles in four plastic surgery journals since 1946. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008;121:320e–327e.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Mehlman CT, Wenger DR. The top 25 at 25: citation classics in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. J Pediatr Orthop. 2006;26:691–694.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Moed HF. New developments in the use of citation analysis in research evaluation. Arch Immunol Ther Exp. 2009;57:13–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Ollerton JE, Sugure M. Citation classics in trauma. J Trauma. 2005;58:364–369.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Paladugu R, Schein M, Gardezi S, Wise L. One hundred citation classics in general surgical journals. World J Surg. 2002;26:1099–1105.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Raghupathi W, Nerur S. Research themes and trends in health information systems. Methods Inf Med. 2008;47:435–442.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Roy D, Hughes JP, Jones AS, Fenton JE. Citation analysis of otorhinolaryngology journals. J Laryngol Otol. 2002;116:363–366.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Sackett DL, Haynes RB, Guyatt GH, Tugwell P, eds. Clinical Epidemiology: A Basic Science for Clinical Medicine. Ed 2. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company; 1991.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Science-Thomas Reuters. Available at: Accessed April 23, 2010.

  26. Seglen PO. Why impact factor of journals should not be used for evaluating research. BMJ. 1997;314:498–502.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Stern RS, Arndt KA. Classic and near-classic articles in the dermatologic literature. Arch Dermatol. 1999;135:948–950.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Stern RS, Arndt KA. Top-cited dermatology authors publishing in 5 “high-impact” general medical journals. Arch Dermatol. 2000;136:357–361.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. Available at: Accessed April 23, 2010.

  30. Tsai YL, Lee CC, Chen SC, Yen ZS. Top-cited articles in emergency medicine. Am J Emerg Med. 2006;24:647–654.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank Dean Giustini from the University of British Columbia Biomedical Branch Library and Raman Johal and Kimmi Dhillon from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Division of Orthopaedic Trauma Research Office.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kelly A. Lefaivre MD, MSc, FRCSC.

Additional information

Each author certifies that he or she has no commercial associations (eg, consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article.

About this article

Cite this article

Lefaivre, K.A., Shadgan, B. & O’Brien, P.J. 100 Most Cited Articles in Orthopaedic Surgery. Clin Orthop Relat Res 469, 1487–1497 (2011).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: