Background: Information on the internet regarding vascular disease has not been extensively assessed. Our goal was to compile and appraise the information available via Google and YouTube searches regarding various topics of interest for vascular surgeons (VS) and related procedures with a focus on the role of the VS. Methods: The Google and YouTube platforms were independently queried for 25 keywords/phrases relating to common vascular diagnoses and procedures by two separate researchers from March to July 2019. Paid advertisements or a Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) webpage or affiliated video in the first 25 results was documented. Results were reviewed for information regarding the responsible medical specialty and the target audience, and disease-related information (screening, risk factors, risk reduction, diagnostic testing, operative treatment, alternative treatment, follow-up, complications, and recovery). Results: From the Google search, 357 unique domains of 1241 total webpages were identified with 75% directed toward the public. An SVS page was present in 56% of the first-page results and least likely to be present in searches for claudication, gangrene, carotid stent, rib resection, and thrombolysis. VS were mentioned as referral physicians in 56% of the 68% of websites that mentioned a specialty, endovascular specialists/interventional radiology in 20%, and cardiothoracic surgeons in 19%. Only 4% of the websites contained information from all categories, with the greatest number for aortic dissection. Advertisements were present in 18% of all searches (most commonly for “varicose vein,” “varicose vein surgery,” and “inferior vena cava filter”). From YouTube, 1247 search results (613 unique videos) were evaluated with 64% directed toward the public. An SVS affiliated video was present in 36% of searches. In the 47% of videos where a specialty was mentioned, 56% mentioned VS, interventional radiology in 10%, and cardiothoracic surgeons in 7%. Only 0.24% of the videos contained information from all categories. The greatest number of content categories was in videos related to peripheral arterial disease. Across both platforms, dialysis access searches yielded results with the least number of content categories. Conclusions: Patient-related information regarding vascular surgical topics is readily available on the internet, but the content is highly variable and not comprehensive. Only half of the searches mention VS as the referral physician of choice or authority for these medical conditions. Further efforts should focus on developing the online presence of vascular surgery, improving the quality of education of vascular disease on the internet, and directing patients to the vascular specialists to treat these conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine