Introduction: Pulmonary metastasectomy for colorectal cancer is a commonly performed and well-established practice of ∼50 years standing. However, there have been no controlled studies, randomised or otherwise. We sought to investigate the evidence base that has been used in establishing its status as a standard of care.
Methods: Among 51 papers used in a recent systematic review and quantitative synthesis, a citation network analysis was performed. A total of 344 publications (the 51 index papers and a further 293 cited in them) constitute the citation network.
Results: The pattern of citation is that of a citation cascade. Specific analyses show the frequent use of historical or landmark papers, which add authority. Papers expressing an opposing viewpoint are rarely cited.
Conclusions: The citation network for this common and well-established practice provides an example of selective citation. This pattern of citation tends to escalate belief in a clinical practice even when it lacks a high-quality evidence base and may create an impression of more authority than is warranted.