Two detailed retraction notices correct the cardiology record

jaccTwo American College of Cardiology conference abstracts published earlier this year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) have been retracted, one because the authors were actually measuring something other than what they reported, and the other because newer software invalidated the results.

Here’s the notice for “Worsening of Pre-Existing Valvulopathy With A New Obesity Drug Lorcaserin, A Selective 5-Hydroxytryptamine 2C Receptor Agonist: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials” by Hemang B. Panchal, Parthav Patel, Brijal Patel, Rakeshkumar Patel, and Henry Philip of East Tennessee State University:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (

In currently published abstract, it was mentioned that the authors measured “change in degree of pre-existing valvulopathy”. Actually, what they measured was “increase in valvular regurgitant grade from baseline” in a normal valve without any evidence of pre-existing FDA-defined valvulopathy. The studies included in their meta-analysis excluded patients with FDA-defined valvulopathy. Therefore, the outcome in their current abstract “increase in pre-existing AR” is actually “increase in aortic regurgitant grade from baseline” in patients without pre-existing FDA-defined aortic regurgitation. Similarly, the outcome in their current abstract “increase in pre-existing MR” is actually “increase in mitral regurgitant grade from baseline” in patients without pre-existing FDA-defined mitral regurgitation. Study data and statistical analysis is correct as it is. The results of their meta-analysis demonstrate that the increase in aortic regurgitant grade from baseline was significantly higher in patients on lorcaserin compared to placebo. The increase in mitral regurgitant grade from baseline was not different between both groups. The interpretation of rest of the outcomes is correct as it is.

And here’s the notice for “Does Intracoronary Adenosine Injection During Primary PCI Reduce Microvascular Obstruction in Patients Admitted With STEMI?” by Gemina Doolub and Colin Fortar of Oxford University:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (

This article has been retracted at the request of the author.

The prevalence of MVO was reduced in the adenosine-treated patients (45%) compared to 85% of control patients (P=0.0043). We found that the size of MVO in adenosine-treated patients was significantly reduced (0.35g) compared to 0.91 g in the control group (P=0.027). There was no statistically significant difference in TIMI flow and clinical outcomes after primary PCI.

Excel software was used to calculate the p-values. On recalculation using a newer version of the programme, the values are coming back different: Prevalence of MVO comparing adenosine to non-adenosine is now 0.15, therefore non-significant. Also the P-value for the mass of MVO in adenosine versus non-adenosine is 0.34, again non-significant.

The second notice seems like a good example of researchers doing the right thing, since they could have made the argument — as we’ve certainly seen — that the results were just fine when originally published.

Whatever the case, outgoing JACC editor-in-chief Anthony DeMaria wrote an editorial in last month’s issue about what should happen to abstracts whose findings change significantly by the time they’re published as full papers. The editorial, to which Marilyn Mann tipped us off, began:

An issue has recently arisen at the Journal that has implications well beyond a few specific papers referenced in Letters to the Editor. The core of the issue relates to differences in data for a given project between the published manuscript and prior versions in abstract form, or even oral presentations. Inquiries concerning several specific papers sought clarification of apparent discrepancies between such various presentations in order to fully understand the findings. However, the questions that were posed invariably raised the unspoken possibility of bias in the handling of the data published. Although seemingly at first blush a simple matter to address, the complexity and implications of this issue were sufficient to provoke considerable discussion and varied opinions at conferences of journal editors at the European Society of Cardiology meeting. It seems clear that it will be important to reach a general agreement on how to handle such matters in the future.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

5 thoughts on “Two detailed retraction notices correct the cardiology record”

  1. Notice number 2 is ridiculous and demands a real explanation!

    Either: 1) Excel had faulty formulas, which could have far ranging implications or 2) the authors didn’t use Excel properly. Given that statistical tests have specific formulas, shouldn’t the authors bust out their old stats books and slide rules, find out what the REAL results are AND where they went wrong and let us know? I highly doubt that there is an mistake in the Excel formula, so they probably just entered stuff wrong or ran a test with the wrong assumptions (didn’t put that third 2 in there?).

    1. The truth comes out eventually. The primary author Gemina Doolub falsely claimed Colin Forfar, a respected researcher, as a co-author for her paper when in fact he had nothing to do with it. She has now been suspended from the medical register for fraud.

      More info in this BMJ article:

  2. As for the ast question ” what should happen to abstracts whose findings change significantly by the time they’re published as full papers” I think the answer is not difficult. Abstracts and presentations count for nothing. They are not (generally) peer-reviewed and don’t (usually) give enough information to judge their merit. I don’t think I have ever cited an abstract, and I don’t list abstracts or presentations on my CV. It’s certainly not worth any time or effort to weed through them.

    1. In fact abstracts do not seem to be cited very often. I just did a quick search in Web of Science for abstracts published in USA 2010 in the subject Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and there were only 191 cites to the 7,038 documents.

      1. Sometimes the interim results of a clinical trial are published in abstract form and then the final results are published in a manuscript. Since waiting for final results can take a couple years, many people will cite the abstract

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