There is an increasing trend among patients and their families to seek medical knowledge on the internet. Patients undergoing surgical interventions, including lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), often rely on online videos as a first source of knowledge to familiarize themselves with the procedure. In this study the authors sought to investigate the reliability and quality of LLIF-related online videos.
In December 2018, the authors searched the YouTube platform using 3 search terms: lateral lumbar interbody fusion, LLIF surgery, and LLIF. The relevance-based ranking search option was used, and results from the first 3 pages were investigated. Only videos from universities, hospitals, and academic associations were included for final evaluation. By means of the DISCERN instrument, a validated measure of reliability and quality for online patient education resources, 3 authors of the present study independently evaluated the quality of information.
In total, 296 videos were identified by using the 3 search terms. Ten videos met inclusion criteria and were further evaluated. The average (± SD) DISCERN video quality assessment score for these 10 videos was 3.42 ± 0.16. Two videos (20%) had an average score above 4, corresponding to a high-quality source of information. Of the remaining 8 videos, 6 (60%) scored moderately, in the range of 3–4, indicating that the publication is reliable but important information is missing. The final 2 videos (20%) had a low average score (2 or below), indicating that they are unlikely to be of any benefit and should not be used. Videos with intraoperative clips were significantly more popular, as indicated by the numbers of likes and views (p = 0.01). There was no correlation between video popularity and DISCERN score (p = 0.104). In August 2019, the total number of views for the 10 videos in the final analysis was 537,785.
The findings of this study demonstrate that patients who seek to access information about LLIF by using the YouTube platform will be presented with an overall moderate quality of educational content on this procedure. Moreover, compared with videos that provide patient information on treatments used in other medical fields, videos providing information on LLIF surgery are still exiguous. In view of the increasing trend to seek medical knowledge on the YouTube platform, and in order to support and optimize patient education on LLIF surgery, the authors encourage academic neurosurgery institutions in the United States and worldwide to implement the release of reliable video educational content.