Essentials of Paediatric Intensive Care. C. G. Stack, P. Dobbs. Greenwich Medical Media Ltd: London, UK, 2004, 241 pp; indexed, illustrated ISBN: 1-84110-053-6; Price £14.50
Essentials of Paediatric Intensive Care is a handbook of paediatric intensive care medicine which covers many of the fundamental issues addressed daily by those who work with critically ill children. I would suggest that it is aimed primarily at nurses and junior doctors working for short periods in the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU), or for those who may be involved in the occasional resuscitation and stabilization of sick children prior to their transfer to a PICU facility.
The book is divided into three sections; general principles are covered in the first 10 chapters, which includes sections on paediatric resuscitation, airway management and ventilation, circulation and cardiac rhythm disturbances. There is a considerable amount of basic physiology within these chapters, much of it presented in an easily read ‘bullet point’ style. There is a very important chapter dealing with the management of death in children in PICU, although the expanding area of the psychological effects of critical illness on children and their families is neglected.
The second section of the book contains 13 chapters which focus on specific PICU problems. The chapter on respiratory diseases is particularly well written and contains much useful information regarding the aetiology, pathophysiology and management of asthma, bronchiolitis and upper airway obstruction. The frequent use of lists and tables within these chapters makes for an engaging layout that conveys the key information very well. A highlight of the book is the superbly illustrated chapter entitled ‘Cardiac disease on the PICU’, contributed by Monica Stokes. This chapter provides a concise overview of the subject dealing with the common clinical problems seen in this group of children in PICU and the anatomy of common congenital heart lesions are clearly displayed. The final section of the book is a useful PICU formulary.
This is a good little book, which would provide much of the information that somebody new to PICU would need and covers the basics of caring for the critically ill child. The book would have been improved by the inclusion of a clear opening chapter on the recognition of the seriously ill child. Similarly it might be suggested that there could have been relatively more space dedicated to the more common problems seen in PICU. Passages on high frequency jet ventilation and liquid ventilation might have been more usefully replaced with detail of the more commonly encountered continuous veno-venous haemofiltration circuit, for example. If I were to express a reservation about this book it would be that it contains rather too much general paediatric information, and whilst not purporting to be a complete PICU manual, a section on common practical procedures undertaken in critically ill children would have added value.
Essentials of Paediatric Intensive Care is a handy, pocket-sized, relatively inexpensive book giving a lot of useful information in a very readable format. It is to be recommended as an introduction to the discipline of PICU.
S. D. Playfor