Christian Knop, Maximilian Reinhold, Christoph Roeder, Lukas Staub, Rene Schmid, Rudolf Beisse, Volker Bühren, Michael Blauth

November 2006, Volume 15, Issue 11, pp 1687 - 1694 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-006-0135-7

First Online: 20 May 2006

This article reports about the internet based, second multicenter study (MCS II) of the spine study group (AG WS) of the German trauma association (DGU). It represents a continuation of the first study conducted between the years 1994 and 1996 (MCS I). For the purpose of one common, centralised data capture methodology, a newly developed internet-based data collection system ( ) of the Institute for Evaluative Research in Orthopaedic Surgery of the University of Bern was used. The aim of this first publication on the MCS II was to describe in detail the new method of data collection and the structure of the developed data base system, via internet. The goal of the study was the assessment of the current state of treatment for fresh traumatic injuries of the thoracolumbar spine in the German speaking part of Europe. For that reason, we intended to collect large number of cases and representative, valid information about the radiographic, clinical and subjective treatment outcomes. Thanks to the new study design of MCS II, not only the common surgical treatment concepts, but also the new and constantly broadening spectrum of spine surgery, i.e. vertebro-/kyphoplasty, computer assisted surgery and navigation, minimal-invasive, and endoscopic techniques, documented and evaluated. We present a first statistical overview and preliminary analysis of 18 centers from Germany and Austria that participated in MCS II. A real time data capture at source was made possible by the constant availability of the data collection system via internet access. Following the principle of an application service provider, software, questionnaires and validation routines are located on a central server, which is accessed from the periphery (hospitals) by means of standard Internet browsers. By that, costly and time consuming software installation and maintenance of local data repositories are avoided and, more importantly, cumbersome migration of data into one integrated database becomes obsolete. Finally, this set-up also replaces traditional systems wherein paper questionnaires were mailed to the central study office and entered by hand whereby incomplete or incorrect forms always represent a resource consuming problem and source of error. With the new study concept and the expanded inclusion criteria of MCS II 1, 251 case histories with admission and surgical data were collected. This remarkable number of interventions documented during 24 months represents an increase of 183% compared to the previously conducted MCS I. The concept and technical feasibility of the MEMdoc data collection system was proven, as the participants of the MCS II succeeded in collecting data ever published on the largest series of patients with spinal injuries treated within a 2 year period.

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