A Century of Evolution in Spine Surgery Publications: A Bibliometric Analysis of the Field From 1900 to 2023

David B. Kurland, Alexander T.M. Cheung, Nora C. Kim, Kimberly Ashayeri, Teresa Hidalgo, Anthony Frempong-Boadu, Eric Karl Oermann, Douglas Kondziolka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Spine surgery has advanced in concert with our deeper understanding of its elements. Narrowly focused bibliometric analyses have been conducted previously, but never on the entire corpus of the field. Using big data and bibliometrics, we appraised the entire corpus of spine surgery publications to study the evolution of the specialty as a scholarly field since 1900. METHODS: We queried Web of Science for all contents from 13 major publications dedicated to spine surgery. We next queried by topic [topic = (spine OR spinal OR vertebrae OR vertebral OR intervertebral OR disc OR disk)]; these results were filtered to include articles published by 49 other publications that were manually determined to contain pertinent articles. Articles, along with their metadata, were exported. Statistical and bibliometric analyses were performed using the Bibliometrix R package and various Python packages. RESULTS: Eighty-five thousand five hundred articles from 62 journals and 134 707 unique authors were identified. The annual growth rate of publications was 2.78%, with a surge after 1980, concurrent with the growth of specialized journals. International coauthorship, absent before 1970, increased exponentially with the formation of influential spine study groups. Reference publication year spectroscopy allowed us to identify 200 articles that comprise the historical roots of modern spine surgery and each of its subdisciplines. We mapped the emergence of new topics and saw a recent lexical evolution toward outcomes- and patient-centric terms. Female and minority coauthorship has increased since 1990, but remains low, and disparities across major publications persist. CONCLUSION: The field of spine surgery was borne from pioneering individuals who published their findings in a variety of journals. The renaissance of spine surgery has been powered by international collaboration and is increasingly outcomes focused. While spine surgery is gradually becoming more diverse, there is a clear need for further promotion and outreach to under-represented populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1143
Number of pages23
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Bibliometrics
  • Publications
  • Spine
  • Spine surgery
  • Trends


Dive into the research topics of 'A Century of Evolution in Spine Surgery Publications: A Bibliometric Analysis of the Field From 1900 to 2023'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this