Concise Anatomy for Anaesthesia
Greenwich Medical Media; London, UK, 2002, 141 pp; indexed, illustrated
ISBN: 1-841-10069-2; Price £24.50
The author's interest in writing this book stems from his experience as a candidate for the FRCA examination in the UK, where knowledge of applied anatomy is required. The main sections are limited to three main systems: respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous (including the dermatomes). Next follows a section about the vertebral column and finally a series of chapters concerning special interests that concern some specific parts of the body, namely the base of the skull, the thoracic inlet, the intercostal space, the abdominal wall, the antecubital fossa, the large veins of the neck, and the eye and orbit.
The pages are well laid out with an arrangement generally for text, in double-column format, on the left-hand pages and illustrations on the opposite (right-hand) pages. The use of numbering and bulleted points breaks the rubric up into small chunks. Although colour is not used, the line drawings are reasonably clear, although I would have preferred the lines and labelling to be thicker and thus easier to read. Each anatomical structure is dealt with fairly briefly according to a general format consisting of an introductory description, the anatomical relations, general structure, blood supply and innervation, plus a useful 'points of interest' paragraph. The main sections are followed by several sample questions.
Medical students today are taught precious little anatomy compared with the previous generation. My extensive experience as an examiner for the FRCA, and various overseas examinations of a similar kind, is that there is really a reasonably small and finite number of questions in applied anatomy that can ever be asked of anaesthetists. A glance through past examination papers over several years demonstrates this, e.g. the anatomy of the trachea, larynx, etc. is always being asked because it is so basic to the specialty. Thus, it seems that a more logical approach would have been to start from a bank of sample questions and then go on to answer them. The reader would then perhaps have more idea of the point behind the questions; in this book a rationale for the structures targeted is lacking. Anaesthetists insert various tubes and needles into their patients in a variety of ways and it is through these processes that they can do damage. Hence, the rationale for the anatomy described needs emphasis each time.
Despite the passage of time anatomy never changes, so this book would be useful for anyone who does not already own an anatomical textbook; it has the advantage that its size makes it ideal for reading on the train or bus.
A. P. Adams