The Anaesthesia Viva 1. Physiology and Pharmacology,2nd edition
J. Urquhart, M. Blunt and C. Pinnock
Greenwich Medical Media Limited: London, UK, 2003, 200 pp; indexed, illustrated
ISBN: 1–84110–102–8; Price £26.50
Book reviewing can be a somewhat formulaic process: receive book, read book, write a rigidly objective analysis, finish with a one-line conclusion. Readers, I must confess that I cannot remain objective in reviewing this book. The most important advice ever given to me on how to pass medical examinations was, ‘Use small books’. To this end, when the first edition of The Anaesthesia Viva 1. Physiology and Pharmacology was published in 1996, I bought one immediately, along with its sister publication The Anaesthesia Viva 2. Physics, Measurement, Safety, Clinical Anaesthesia. I am sure that reading both slim volumes before examination vivas all but guaranteed my success.
The Anaesthesia Viva 1 is essential reading for all junior anaesthetists facing clinical examinations and all senior anaesthetists charged with the task of administering practice vivas. The book fulfils two crucial functions. Primarily, it distils the syllabus of the Fellowship examination (FRCA) of the UK Royal College of Anaesthetists into a readable aide memoire for use shortly before a viva, reminding candidates of the important facts of a topic, at a time when the volume of information they have learnt threatens to be overwhelming. Secondly, this reviewer found that the book provided a useful skeleton of core knowledge on which secondary and tertiary facts could be hung, in order to build up a comprehensive body of revision.
The second edition contains updated material, and roughly 50 pages more information, all of which are relevant and straightforward in presentation. If I had one criticism, it would be that, for some unknown reason, the highly distinctive book cover has been changed, which cannot be the greatest marketing ploy ever.
And the one-line conclusion? Buy it!
S. M. White