By: 3 August 2012
AAGBI Core Topics in Anaesthesia 2012

In a world that is increasingly based on portable technological aids, such as smart phones, it might prove challenging for a book to remain relevant. However, the mental image of an anaesthetist carrying around journals (and newspapers!) is probably not new to many. And personally, I must admit that I still favour reading printed material most of the time.
One thing strikes me immediately is the variety of topics (in 11 chapters), from basic sciences to clinical topics to ethical issues to the current exploration of alternative ways of learning. Close on the heels of that is the list of authors hailing from various areas of the UK, making the book more likely to be widely accepted. Reading through the book, like in any other with this format of different authorships, I found some more ‘digestable’ than others.

In particular, I have found Chapter 3 as an excellent reinforcement of the enhanced recovery approach. Whilst it deals with colorectal surgery, most points are also valid for various other procedures and can be extended for most patients undergoing elective surgery. It is highly convincing about the reaped benefits of the enhanced recovery approach. Coming from a country where an official ERAS programme is not yet implemented, this chapter stimulates me to follow lead, and to aspire to audit current practices and implement a similar approach there.

Chapter 4 deals with the difficult airway though I suggest adding ‘Cricothyroidotomy techniques’ to the title as it occupies the vast majority of the chapter. Similar change should apply to Chapter 5 title making it “Regional analgesia for abdominal surgery” as it excellently describes the various regional techniques rather than giving a holistic view of analgesia for abdominal surgery. The case histories are a welcome addition in Chapter 7, The Unstable Cervical Spine, adding real life scenarios to the theory behind it all. Obstetric haemorrhage is very clearly and adequately dealt with in Chapter 8, including the pharmacology and blood products section.

Orthopaedic surgery occupies a relatively large amount of theatre time in many hospitals, and of all types of surgery, hip fracture surgery is one of the most common ones, especially with the increasing elderly population. Chapter 9 deals sporadically with some of the important and commonly-encountered problems in the population of patients undergoing hip fracture surgery. Whilst the layout is not my favourite, it is sufficient to review the relevant points.

I am not sure why e-Learning Anaesthesia is included in this book as a chapter, but perhaps the ultimate aim was to encourage more people to participate in the e-learning project.
The final chapter that deals with consent and the explanation of risk, proved to be a very interesting read. It uses very real situations that one may encounter in everyday practice, and attempts to answer, or at least discuss, dilemmas that one may unexpectedly come face to face with.

In general, I have found this book useful to read. If it is going to be regularly published, I would suggest more thorough proof-reading as there are a few syntax errors here and there, which might wrongly suggest that the effort put in was not as good as it could have been.