Myths and legends in orthopaedic practice: are we all guilty?

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2008 Nov;466(11):2861-72. doi: 10.1007/s11999-008-0458-2. Epub 2008 Aug 26.


Over years of practice, many beliefs and practices become entrenched as tried and tested, and we subconsciously believe they are based on scientific evidence. We identified nine such beliefs by interviewing orthopaedic surgeons in which studies (or lack thereof) apparently do not support such practices. These are: changing the scalpel blade after the skin incision to limit contamination; bending the patient's knee when applying a thigh tourniquet; bed rest for treatment of deep vein thrombosis; antibiotics in irrigation solution; routine use of hip precautions; routine use of antibiotics for the duration of wound drains; routine removal of hardware in children; correlation between operative time and infection; and not changing dressings on the floor before scrubbing. A survey of 186 practicing orthopaedic surgeons in academic and community settings was performed to assess their routine practice patterns. We present the results of the survey along with an in-depth literature review of these topics. Most surgeon practices are based on a combination of knowledge gained during training, reading the literature, and personal experience. The results of this survey hopefully will raise the awareness of the selected literature for common practices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Humans
  • Orthopedic Procedures / standards*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States