Development of the Anatomical Quality Assurance (AQUA) checklist: Guidelines for reporting original anatomical studies

Clin Anat. 2017 Jan;30(1):14-20. doi: 10.1002/ca.22800. Epub 2016 Nov 25.


The rise of evidence-based anatomy has emphasized the need for original anatomical studies with high clarity, transparency, and comprehensiveness in reporting. Currently, inconsistencies in the quality and reporting of such studies have placed limits on accurate reliability and impact assessment. Our aim was to develop a checklist of reporting items that should be addressed by authors of original anatomical studies. The study steering committee formulated a preliminary conceptual design and began to generate items on the basis of a literature review and expert opinion. This led to the development of a preliminary checklist. The validity of this checklist was assessed by a Delphi procedure, and feedback from the Delphi panelists, who were experts in the area of anatomical research, was used to improve it. The Delphi procedure involved 12 experts in anatomical research. It comprised two rounds, after which unanimous consensus was reached regarding the items to be included in the checklist. The steering committee agreed to name the checklist AQUA. The preliminary AQUA Checklist consisted of 26 items divided into eight sections. Following round 1, some of the items underwent major revision and three new ones were introduced. The checklist was revised only for minor language inaccuracies after round 2. The final version of the AQUA Checklist consisted of the initial eight sections with a total of 29 items. The steering committee hopes the AQUA Checklist will improve the quality and reporting of anatomical studies. Clin. Anat. 30:14-20, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: anatomy; checklist; reporting guideline.

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy / standards*
  • Checklist*
  • Delphi Technique