Anaesthesia for Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Edited by R. RUSSELL. BMJ Books, London, UK, 2000. Price £35.00, pp. 369.
This book has been written by eight UK and three Australian authors. It consists of eight chapters on issues of obstetrical anaesthesia, and one chapter dedicated to anaesthesia for gynaecological surgery. It is part of a series of books that are, according to the series editors, aimed to bring to the reader up to date with authoritative reviews of the principal clinical topics that make up the speciality. Clearly, this aim has been reached in most chapters. For instance, there are very comprehensive chapters on regional analgesia and anaesthesia, on maternal changes in pregnancy, on the parturient with coexisting disease, and on anaesthesia for gynaecological surgery. This book with 300 text pages has an extensive index. The chapters are easy to read.
However, in many chapters there are too often references to techniques and drugs which may be historically interesting but which are definitely out of use. For most young readers, it may be somewhat strange to read in some chapters about trichloroethylene, methoxyflurane, ether, and chloroform, but to find relatively little or no information, for instance, on sevoflurane. Also, old-fashioned analgesic methods such as abdominal decompression are unlikely to be of much interest to young anaesthetists in training. It may have been more appropriate to put together all information on these ancient methods and drugs into one chapter dedicated to the history of obstetrical anaesthesia. Another drawback is that the book that is thought to be of interest to an international readership does not provide much information on drugs which are used outside the UK (for instance, 2-chloroprocaine). Finally, more illustrations would help the reader to follow the text, and to better understand, for instance, physiology and anatomy.
Who should read the book? I do not think that the book should be recommended to the beginner in obstetric anaesthesia. The lack of illustrations makes it difficult for the young resident to memorize the information, and some parts of the book are almost too comprehensive. More experienced anaesthetists may appreciate the large spectrum of this book.
University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland