The authors of this book may not be well known to audiences in the United States (U.S.). However, sales of this textbook in the United Kingdom (U.K.) are higher than sales of similar textbooks edited by U.S. authors and sold in the U.K. Not surprisingly, the opposite is true in the U.S. The intent of the authors is to have this book serve as an examination training tool for the Royal College of Anesthetists' primary fellowship, though it could also be useful as an examination training tool for the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) board of certification examination. To that end, the book is primarily designed for resident physicians and those studying for the ABA certification for anesthesiology, though it could also serve as a good review for the individual who is studying for a recertification examination.
The textbook Fundamentals of Anaesthesia was originally published in 1999, and the second edition was published in 2003. In comparison with the previous edition, chapters have been revised, new chapters and contributors have been added, and there is a greater use of color in the third edition. The book contains 48 chapters, organized into four sections: clinical anesthesia, physiology, pharmacology, and physics and statistics.
Readers from the U.S. will likely be familiar with the Content Outline, published by the ABA and American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), namely http://www.asahq.org/publicationsAndServices/ITE_Part1ContentOutline_Revised2009.pdf, which serves as a study guide for the ABA in-training examination and part 1 of the initial ABA certification examination. In the U.K., the Fellowship of the Royal College of Anesthetists (FRCA) has a primary syllabus for 12 months of training, which is published in the book's Appendix, and has useful references to the corresponding portion of the text. Therefore, this latest edition of Fundamentals of Anaesthesia is specifically designed as a reference book for the FRCA primary examination.
Unlike many textbooks that include separate chapters for each subspecialty of anesthesia, the section on clinical anesthesia provides only a summary. The chapter entitled “Special Patient Circumstances” includes a discussion of managing anesthesia for obstetrics, children, and ambulatory surgery. Some readers who use the index to find certain topics might have difficulty, given the difference in use of the English language between the U.S. and the U.K. For example, ambulatory surgery in the U.S. is called day-case surgery in the U.K. In addition, certain topics that are contained in the ABA/ASA Content Outline are not contained in the FRCA primary syllabus. For example, coronary artery bypass and one-lung ventilation are included in the ABA/ASA Content Outline, but not in the FRCA primary syllabus. This book, though, is not designed to cover the FRCA final syllabus, which does cover such topics.
Overall, the chapters are well written, and the writing is very uniform throughout the text even though the chapters have different authors. Figures and tables are included in each chapter, and they serve as useful aids to the materials presented in the text. The references provided at the end of each chapter are not the strongest point of this book. For the majority of chapters, most references were published before the current century. Unfortunately, many chapters have no references.
Because repetition is a key to learning, reading one basic textbook several times may not be as effective as reading different books covering similar material. To that end, this book should be one of many books that are part of the medical library used by students of anesthesia.