YouTube™ as a source of patient information for lumbar discectomy

Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2014 Mar;96(2):144-6. doi: 10.1308/003588414X13814021676396.


Introduction: YouTube™ contains more than 60% of all videos on the internet. Its popularity has increased, and it has now become a source of patient education and information. It is unregulated for the quality of its videos. This project was designed to assess the quality of videos on YouTube™ on lumbar discectomy.

Methods: A systematic search of YouTube™ was performed. The search terms used were 'lumbar' and 'discectomy'. The first ten pages were reviewed. Information was recorded relating to the date of publishing, the publisher and the number of viewings. The content was reviewed using criteria based on recommendations from the British Association of Spine Surgeons website. Content was assessed and points were awarded for information relating to management options, description of the procedure (including anaesthetic, likely recovery and outcome) and complications as well as information relating to the author and his or her institute. An overall rating of 'inadequate', 'poor', 'average' or 'good' was given.

Results: Overall, 81 videos were identified. The total number of viewings was 2,722,964 (range: 139-111,891), with an average number of 34,037 viewings per video. There were 16 with a rating of 'good', 25 with a rating of 'average' and 40 with a rating of 'poor' or 'inadequate'. The most common missing information related to anaesthesia or complications. Most videos (69/81) were broadcast by surgeons or surgical institutes.

Conclusions: The quality of YouTube™ videos is variable and we believe this represents the unregulated nature of broadcasts on YouTube™. Thought should be given to information in videos prior to placement.

MeSH terms

  • Diskectomy*
  • Humans
  • Internet / standards
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards*
  • Social Media / standards*
  • Video Recording / standards*