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Social responsibility in medical reporting
  1. Joshua A Hirsch1,
  2. Ariel E Hirsch2,
  3. Gregg H Zoarski3,
  4. Allan L Brook4,
  5. Jeffrey A Stone5,
  6. Donald V Heck6,
  7. Albert J Yoo1
  1. 1Department of Interventional Neuroradiology/Endovascular Neurosurgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, USA
  2. 2Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, USA
  3. 3Department of Diagnostic Imaging, University of Maryland Medical Center, USA
  4. 4Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY USA
  5. 5Mayo Clinic Florida, USA
  6. 6Forsyth Radiological Associates, USA
  1. Correspondence to Joshua A Hirsch, Department of Interventional Neuroradiology/Endovascular Neurosurgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Gray 241, Boston, MA 02114, USA; hirsch{at}snisonline.org

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On August 6, 2009, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), arguably the world's most influential medical journal, published the results of two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of vertebroplasty that demonstrated equivalence to a controlled intervention.1 2 Set against the backdrop of a heated national health care debate, these articles created a media frenzy and placed the NeuroInterventional community (amongst others) under immediate and intense scrutiny.

The articles sparked a sensationalistic and sometimes hostile debate in which vertebral augmentation specialists were called upon to comment, render opinions and seemingly “defend” their practice.3 4 Sadly for our patients, many of these responses were emotional, reactionary and antagonistic to evidence-based medicine (EBM)—an opportunity for a healthy and reasoned debate was lost.

The large body of evidence that supports the practice of vertebral augmentation cannot be easily dismissed. Practitioners of vertebral augmentation have seen countless patients …

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