Search strategy and evidence selection

Search strategy and evidence selection

Search strategy

The search strategy was designed to identify evidence on the clinical and cost effectiveness of the TactiCath catheter in people with drug refractory, recurrent, symptomatic atrial fibrillation (AF).

The strategy was developed for MEDLINE (Ovid interface). The strategy was devised using a combination of subject indexing terms and free text search terms in the title, abstract and keyword heading word fields. The search terms were identified through discussion within the research team, scanning background literature, browsing database thesauri and use of the PubMed PubReMiner tool. The strategy reflected the nature of the MIB assessments as rapid evidence reviews, with a relatively pragmatic approach being taken. The performance of the draft MEDLINE strategy was assessed by checking retrieval of 7 known, relevant studies identified by the research team at the project start; the draft strategy successfully retrieved all the known, relevant studies.

The main structure of the search strategy comprised 3 concepts:

  • AF

  • catheter ablation

  • contact force.

The search concepts were combined as follows:

  • AF AND catheter ablation AND contact force.

The strategy also combined a line on catheter contact with AF terms, manufacturer terms with the AF and contact force terms, and included standalone search lines on device name‑related terms. These were designed to identify studies that might be missed by the 3 concept approach.

Search concepts were captured using subject headings and textword searches in title, abstract and keyword heading word fields.

The strategy excluded animal studies using a standard algorithm. Non‑English language publications were also excluded from the search results. The search was restricted to studies published from 2009 to date. This date reflected the date the original version of the device was CE marked.

The MEDLINE strategy was translated appropriately for the other databases searched. The PubMed search was limited to records not fully indexed for MEDLINE.

The following databases were searched:

  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Cochrane Library, Wiley)

  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Cochrane Library, Wiley)

  • Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (Cochrane Library, Wiley)

  • Embase (Ovid SP)

  • Health Technology Assessment Database (Cochrane Library, Wiley)

  • MEDLINE and MEDLINE in Process (Ovid SP)

  • NHS Economic Evaluation Database (Cochrane Library, Wiley)

  • PubMed.

Evidence selection

A total of 482 records were retrieved from the literature search. After removal of duplicates, 279 records remained and were sifted against the inclusion criteria at title and abstract level.

Records were sifted independently by 2 researchers. Any disagreements were discussed and agreement was reached in all cases, so a third independent arbiter was not required. The first sift removed 250 records based on the following exclusion criteria:

  • articles of poor relevance against search terms

  • publication types that were out of scope

  • non‑English language studies

  • conference abstracts

  • review articles.

Full articles were retrieved for the remaining 29 studies and a full text assessment was done independently by 2 researchers to identify relevant primary research addressing the key clinical outcomes of interest. Twenty two studies were excluded for the following reasons:

  • Device not used: 9

  • Multiple contact force devices used and results could not be separated: 4

  • Review studies/editorials: 3

  • Meta‑analyses with primary studies already included: 2

  • Incorrect comparator: 2

  • Threshold analysis studies: 1

  • Proof‑of‑concept study: 1

  • Total: 22

A total of 7 studies remained that reported on the TactiCath catheter and addressed the key clinical outcomes of interest (Kautzner et al. 2015; Reddy et al. 2015; Vaccari et al. 2014; Wakili et al. 2014; Wutzler et al. 2014; Kuck et al. 2012; Reddy et al. 2012).