Neurosurgery journal retracts spine paper for lack of attribution

bjneurosurgA neurosurgeon in the UK has lost his 2013 paper on spinal surgery in the British Journal of Neurosurgery for doing what appears to have been an end-run around the folks that did the work.

The article, “The management of spinal dural fistulas: a 13-year retrospective analysis,” was written by Denosshan Sri, of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge.

Here’s the abstract:

Introduction. Spinal Dural Fistulas (SDAVF) are the most common Spinal Vascular Malformation. The management of SDAVFs has revolved around embolization or surgical interruption. The management strategy employed at this centre is to attempt embolization as first line therapy and to opt for surgery in the event of failure. Method. This retrospective study looks at the management of 38 patients treated for SDAVFs at a tertiary centre over a 13-year period (1997–2010). Patient demographics, procedure and follow-up over a 6–12 month period (mean of approximately 10 months) were analyzed and qualitative assessment of patient outcome was assessed. Results. Patient ages ranged from 20 to 86 (mean 63.5), with 27 male and 11 female patients. Patients managed since 1995 with a combination of embolization and surgery report either improved symptoms or a return to normal were 73.7%. Micturition and bowel symptoms indicated more severe disability and were more likely to contribute to no improvement in overall outcome. Conclusions. This centre has in place a management strategy for SDAVF that contributes to both radiologically and symptomatically successful treatment.

Trouble is, it seems the center didn’t know about the article. According to the retraction notice:

The retraction has been requested on the grounds that the study leaders had not participated in or agreed to the submitted article. The retraction is not made on the basis of any concerns with the data or findings of the study.

D. Sri sincerely apologises for the inconvenience caused.

The paper has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

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2 thoughts on “Neurosurgery journal retracts spine paper for lack of attribution”

  1. A little digging shows this is a likely a fairly innocent mistake by a neurosurgery resident or fellow. Dr Denosshan Sri graduated from the undergraduate medical program at the University of Cambridge in 2011, and was listed in the 2013 publication as having “The Department of Neurosurgery, Addenbooke’s Hospital, Cambridge” as his affiliation. The publication is a series of case reports with the last one detailed as 2010. While I cannot exclude that Dr Sri has a doppelgänger with the same name who is a respected neurosurgeon, it would appear that this unfortunate young man was told to dig through the records of this distinguished neurosurgical institute and prepare a small paper on spinal dural fistulas. If the material seemed good enough, it might merit publication and his nascent career would benefit. He probably took that advice literally and submitted it for publication. While I haven’t paid to go through the firewall and actually read more than the abstract, I would be surprised if he made any claim to having treated the patients.

    1. Peeking behind the pay wall, as I happen to have access there, Dr. Sri indeed makes not such claims. The paper seems to be a straightforward retrospective case series, presented statistically. It ends with the following acknowledgement: “The author thanks Mr R Laing, Neurosurgery Department at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, for valuable comments and sharing his knowledge.” Dr. Sri himself has moved and now works in another hospital, now in London, judged from his address for correspondence. The problem here seems to be lack of coauthors or further acknowledgements.

      This was his second PudMed paper, giving a very unfortunate 50% retraction rate.

      The first paper in Intensive Care Medicine was published from Lister Hospital, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, and unnervingly also has Dr. Sri as the sole author, givenn it is written as “we” throughout. That paper likewise ends with an acknowledgement which tells little; “Dr L. Tyson, Dr R. Stewart, Dr K. Williams and Dr V. Prasad, Lister Hospital, ITU Department, Coreys Mill Lane, Stevenage, UK.”

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