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Edited by Irving Taylor and Colin Johnson. (Pp 241; £35.) Royal Society of Medicine Press, 2003. ISBN 1-85315-551-9.
The 26th part of the Recent Advances series contains 16 chapters arranged into five sections: basic science and gastrointestinal, vascular, breast, and general surgery. Each section has a few chapters covering topical subjects. This approach works well and although the coverage is not comprehensive, the chapters provide bite sized updates that can be easily digested by a busy consultant. Keeping up to date with advancing areas in surgical specialties is relevant to all general surgeons who participate in an emergency rota and teach trainees.
The final chapter in the book contains a selection of important randomised controlled trials in surgery over the last year. Each trial is briefly described, including the main findings of the study. In addition, summary key points are listed throughout the chapter. This is a useful synopsis of randomised trials over the past 12 months, but the quality of evidence for the key bullet points is variable. Some recommendations are based on high quality meta-analyses, whereas other recommendations are based on single randomised trials that are not described in sufficient detail to reassure the reader that the methods are robust. Translating research into clinical practice requires reliable data. It would be useful if the grading of evidence could be included in these surgical trials. In general, however, the scientific standards throughout the book are good and references from high quality studies are cited to support recent advances.
The text is easy to read and well illustrated with summary tables and algorithms. There are a few typographical errors and some of the figures are poorly labelled, but overall it is excellent and clinically relevant. This book is a painless way to update your knowledge of recent advances in surgery. It is well written and suitable for a tired surgeon after a day’s work.