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Edited by A A Majid and A Kingsnorth. (Pp 862; £95.) Greenwich Medical Media, 2003. ISBN 1-84110-018-8.
The explosion in information technology was initially predicted to eliminate the need for textbooks and journals. Thankfully this has not occurred and opinion is beginning to revert to common sense with teaching aids complementing, rather than competing. Advanced Surgical Practice is a comprehensive major surgical textbook edited by two eminent surgeons and is undoubtedly of value to higher surgical trainees who wish to have a knowledge of “general surgery” in its broadest sense. However, I fear that “advanced” is inaccurate when applied to many of the topics covered. The many contributors have adopted somewhat different styles, a common feature of all multiauthor texts. Some of the detail goes beyond what one would expect, for example there is far too much on biliary atresia. Some important topics are left out, there is little on hernia except paediatric and the laparoscopic approach. Some sections do not allow for individual opinions, the section on small bowel anastomoses recommends a polypropylene double ended continuous suture, without specifically stating that practically any suture, and any technique (interrupted or continuous), will work in most cases. My laparoscopic colleagues inform me that the technique recommended for appendicectomy may be unsafe as it leaves a long stump and leaves a potential for stump abscess formation. In my own field of colorectal cancer the suggestion that a rectal tumour has to be more than 7 cm from the anal verge to allow anterior resection is outdated.
Nevertheless this book is a useful reference and should be available to all higher surgical trainees, though perhaps not everyone needs to own one.
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.