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Edited by Colin Johnson and Irving Taylor. (Pp 229; £32.95.) Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd, 2002. ISBN 1-85315-508-X.****
A careful read of this series is virtually “compulsory” for all candidates for the intercollegiate final FRCS examination in general surgery. It is also required reading for all busy consultants and general surgeons, so that we feel faintly “guilty” if we haven’t done it!
This 25th edition is a worthy successor with the usual editors who are again very successful in avoiding repetition and mutual contradiction between the various chapters, which are written mainly by specialist registrars with consultant guidance. The book presumes a good sound knowledge of general surgery and is, in my opinion, too advanced for MRCS candidates.
It is quite good as a “dip in” source for consultants and specialist registrars in allied specialties, starting with the useful summary entitled “key points for clinical practice” which comes at the end of each chapter.
The chapter on “Genes and the surgeon” is aimed at the senior ignoramus (like myself) and at least gives me some idea of what they are all talking about! I was, however, sorry that no mention was made of the interplay between family genetic studies and the securing of life insurance, which is so essential to having a mortgage.
I gained a lot from reading the chapters on “Postoperative pain control” (although there was no detailed discussion of what to do with a patient whose epidural was failing to control the postoperative pain) and “Perioperative nutritional support”, where there is controversy between those advocating hyperalimentation and the minimalists. They both seem to agree that hyperglycaemia is bad and should be controlled pretty aggressively.
The account of angioplasty for critical limb ischaemia was very clear, as was the chapter on PET scans. The final chapter is an overview of current recent randomised controlled trials in general surgery and makes a useful check list.
My advice to general surgeons and their specialist registrars is buy it and read it from cover to cover. Other people can and should dip into it.
The reviewers have been asked to rate these books in terms of four items: readability, how up to date they are, accuracy and reliability, and value for money, using simple four point scales. From their opinions we have derived an overall “star” rating: * = poor, ** = reasonable, *** = good, **** = excellent.
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