Atlas of Airway Management: Techniques and Tools
Orebaugh SL. Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007. ISBN 13 978-07817-9724-6. 216 pages, $79.95.
Atlas of Airway Management is a unique, comprehensive review of airway management technique using cadavaric prosections to demonstrate techniques and apparatus. The book is filled with great pictures demonstrating airway management techniques in both living models and cadavers. Written text is limited as most of the story is told with pictures, making the book a quick and easy read. It starts with a good review of airway anatomy, which is well demonstrated with diagrams, pictures, a cadavaric sagittal section through the head, and MRI images.
Subsequent chapters are set up with the same general format for each skill set — concept, evidence, description of preparation for and the procedure itself, practicality, indications, contraindications, complications, and references. This repetitive pattern allows one to easily identify the specific points of each technique. Each section has limited descriptive text and relies on the visual media to complete the concepts. Many of the pictures are unique images of the airway, the device, or pathologies. Much can be learned simply by looking at the pictures.
For the most part, the concept for each technique is outlined and provides the reader a quick insight into the mechanical aspects of each technique. The overview of the evidence is scanty, with some papers that experts may consider critical notably absent. However it is evident that a detailed review of the literature was not the intention of the author.
In the preparation and procedure section, the author outlines essential equipment and drugs required to perform the technique and then goes on to detail each step in point form. This approach is helpful and allows the reader to quickly review the steps. It lacks, however, sufficient description of the pearls for success and teaching the reader how to evaluate the suitability of a technique for a clinical situation.
The section on practicality, indications, contraindications, and complications is once again in an easy-to-read list format. Although this allows for a quick scan by the reader, depth in the real-life triage of the technique is lacking, though good lists are provided which may be useful for students. These sections are not referenced, which leads this reviewer to surmise that they are heavily influenced by the opinion of the author.
Most airway management techniques are well represented, although some limitations are noted. There is no mention of the newer video laryngoscope techniques. The author devotes a chapter to the special airway situation in pediatrics, which is very brief and only hits a few highlights. A section in the book is reserved for difficult airway management, including recognition, training, and management. Interestingly, in this section there is no mention of the special high-risk situation posed by the pregnant patient. In this section, there are some tables and illustration borrowed from a text book edited by R. M. Walls, Manual of Airway Management. These charts are labeled A–D, but there is no explanation of the significance of the labels or the sequence of the charts.
Overall, this book was fun to review. However, it should not be used as a definitive reference for airway management, but as a quick guide to available airway techniques.
Holly Muir, MD, FRCPC
Vice Chair Clinical Operations
Chief Division of Women's Anesthesia
Department of Anesthesiology