Harms reporting by systematic reviews for functional endoscopic sinus surgery: a cross-sectional analysis

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Objectives: To evaluate the completeness of harms reporting in systematic reviews (SRs) pertaining to functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). 

Methods: Using a cross-sectional study design, we performed a comprehensive search using MEDLINE (PubMed and Ovid), EMBASE, Epistemonikos, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews databases for SRs regarding FESS on May 15th, 2022. Returns were screened and data were extracted in a masked, duplicate manner. Following established methodology, we extracted general study characteristics, harms items, and overall methodological quality for each SR in our sample. Corrected covered area (CCA) was calculated for SR dyads. For data analysis, using Stata 16.1 we performed a bivariate analysis between variables. 

Results: Fifty-five SR’s were included in our sample after excluding 375 studies that did not meet our inclusion criteria. Of the included SRs, 19 (19/55, 34.5%) did not report harms and 39 (39/55, 70.9%) reported half of the harms items or fewer. Our study found that 23 (23/55, 41.8%) of SRs demonstrated a method of harms data collection, 26 (26/55, 47.3%) of SRs had patients available for harms analysis in their results, and 25 (25/55, 45.5%) of SRs had a balanced discussion of harms and benefits of FESS. Fifty-two SRs were appraised as “critically low” quality using AMSTAR-2. A significant association was found between completeness of harms reporting (Mahady) and whether harms were listed as a primary outcome. No other associations were statistically significant. Two SR dyads had CCAs between 20% and 50% overlap and were compared for unique and shared harms. 

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates gaps in harms reporting regarding FESS in SRs. We recommend future studies implement guidelines such as the STROCCS guidelines or the harms extension of the PRISMA guidelines to improve harms reporting. Accurate harms reporting may advance patient safety and promote a more objective risk–benefit analysis for physicians and patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2805-2819
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Adverse events
  • Complications
  • Functional endoscopic sinus surgery
  • Harms
  • Rhinology
  • Systematic reviews


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