Document Detail

The evidentiary significance of case reports: eye rubbing and keratoconus.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  18382341     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
PURPOSE: Individual case reports (observational or interventional) are thought to have a very low ranking for evidentiary significance. This clinical report examines the relationship between the evidentiary significance of case reports and their presentation. METHODS: An observational report of unilateral keratoconus (KC), that developed in association with a corresponding unilateral chronic habit of abnormal rubbing, is examined to identify features that can raise the level of evidentiary significance. RESULTS: A feature of this type of case is the opportunity to compare the eye with KC to the unaffected eye, for which there was an unremarkable rubbing history. The unaffected eye serves as a retrospective unintentional control for the affected eye. Detailed assessment to establish the normality of the apparently normal eye is crucial to the differential diagnosis between a markedly asymmetric presentation and a true unilateral presentation. Any history of systemic diseases that may be associated with the presenting disease can be important. Longitudinal follow-up, especially if postonset data are supplemented with preonset data, can contribute to the evidentiary base by allowing for comparison with the natural history of the relevant disease. Intervention to remove a suspected causal factor, when combined with appropriate follow-up, can provide additional evidence. CONCLUSIONS: Depending on their presentation, some types of case report can have a significant evidence-based function in assessing causal hypotheses and, accordingly, provide a higher evidentiary ranking than generally assigned to case reports. The potential for a higher evidentiary ranking may be more important when randomized clinical trials are contraindicated for ethical reasons, or there are challenging problems with study design. Wider agreement regarding the quantitative and qualitative criteria for diagnosing the earliest stages of KC would aid the assessment of the evidentiary significance of case reports of this disease.
Charles W McMonnies
Publication Detail:
Type:  Case Reports; Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Optometry and vision science : official publication of the American Academy of Optometry     Volume:  85     ISSN:  1040-5488     ISO Abbreviation:  Optom Vis Sci     Publication Date:  2008 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2008-04-02     Completed Date:  2008-08-05     Revised Date:  2009-11-19    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8904931     Medline TA:  Optom Vis Sci     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  262-9     Citation Subset:  IM    
School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Kensington, Australia.
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MeSH Terms
Follow-Up Studies
Genetic Testing
Keratoconus / etiology*,  genetics
Longitudinal Studies
Medical History Taking
Observer Variation
Physical Stimulation / adverse effects*

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