The number of citations an article receives after its publication reflects its recognition in the scientific community. In the present study, therefore, we identified and examined the characteristics of the top 100 most frequently cited articles published in anesthetic journals. These articles were identified using the database of the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED, 1945 to present) and the Web of SCIENCE(R). The most-cited article received 707 citations and the least cited article received 197 citations, with a mean of 283 citations per article. These citation classics were published between 1954 and 1997 in 5 high-impact anesthetic journals, led by Anesthesiology (73 articles) followed by Anesthesia & Analgesia (10), British Journal of Anesthesia (10), Anesthesia (6), and Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica (2). Seventy-eight articles were original publications, 22 were review articles, and one was an editorial. They originated from nine countries, with the United States contributing 70 articles. Within the United States, California leads the list of citation classics with 25 articles. Twenty-nine persons authored two or more of the top-cited articles. The main topics covered by the top-cited articles are pharmacology, volatile anesthetics, circulation, regional anesthesia, and lung physiology. This analysis of citation rates allows for the recognition of seminal advances in anesthesia and gives a historic perspective on the scientific progress of this specialty.
Implications: We performed a citation analysis to identify important contributions and contributors to the anesthetic literature. These classic articles have influenced many people and have brought to our attention the many important advances in anesthesia made during the last 50 yr.