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Julie Dubourg, Moncef Berhouma, Michael Cotton and Mahmoud Messerer

Comparative effectiveness research (CER) allows evidence to be evaluated on the effectiveness, benefits, and detriments of management options, diagnostic tests, or ways to deliver health care. This process can be achieved in different ways, such as with well-designed randomized controlled trials or by meta-analyses. Several medical subspecialties are increasingly using CER, but CER remains underused by the neurosurgical community. Meta-analysis is a highly accurate method that permits results from multiple well-designed research studies to be quantitatively compared. Meta-analysis can be performed in many settings, such as the evaluation of treatment or of a diagnostic test or prognostic factor. Meta-analyses of randomized controlled treatment trials are well known, but there is a paucity of papers describing the ways to perform a meta-analysis of a diagnostic test. The aim of this paper is to improve neurosurgeons' familiarity with the meta-analysis of diagnostic test accuracy by describing and detailing each stage leading to publication.