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Table 1 Example of search development and evaluation. Expanding on the terms ‘cervical’ and ‘myelopathy’ improved sensitivity. However, the use of ‘neck’ or terms relating to ‘spinal cord injury’ were of no added benefit. Results given for 2005 development database, for which 77 articles were identified using the hand search. Changes to the search strategy from one iteration to the next are shown in bold

From: Development and validation of a MEDLINE search filter/hedge for degenerative cervical myelopathy

Iteration Search Strategy Articles Returned Relevant Articles Sensitivity (%) Precision (%)
1 (cervical and myelopathy).mp. 48 37 48% 77%
2 (exp Cervical Vertebrae/ or exp Cervical Cord/ or cervical.mp. or (phrenic nucleus or accessory nucleus).mp.) and (myelopath*.mp. or exp Spinal Cord Diseases/ or (spinal cord adj3 (diseas* or disorder*)).mp.) 56 6 56% 41%
3 (exp Cervical Vertebrae/ or exp. Cervical Cord/ or cervical.mp. or (phrenic nucleus or accessory nucleus).mp.) and (myelopath*.mp. or exp. Spinal Cord Diseases/ or (spinal cord adj3 (diseas* or disorder*)).mp. or myeloradiculopath*.mp. or (Spinal Cord adj3 Compress*).mp. or exp Spinal Cord Compression/) 7 2 58% 41%
4 (exp Cervical Vertebrae/ or exp. Cervical Cord/ or cervical.mp. or (phrenic nucleus or accessory nucleus).mp. or exp Neck/ or neck*.mp.) and (myelopath*.mp. or exp. Spinal Cord Diseases/ or (spinal cord adj3 (diseas* or disorder*)).mp. or myeloradiculopath*.mp. or (Spinal Cord adj3 Compress*).mp. or exp. Spinal Cord Compression/) 1 0 58% 40%
5 (exp Cervical Vertebrae/ or exp. Cervical Cord/ or cervical.mp. or (phrenic nucleus or accessory nucleus).mp. or exp. Neck/ or neck*.mp.) and (myelopath*.mp. or exp. Spinal Cord Diseases/ or (spinal cord adj3 (diseas* or disorder*)).mp. or myeloradiculopath*.mp. or (Spinal Cord adj3 Compress*).mp. or exp. Spinal Cord Compression/ or (spinal cord adj3 (injur* or trauma* or contusion* or lacerat*)).mp or exp Spinal Cord Injuries/) 5 0 58% 39%