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Book Review

How to Survive in Anaesthesia - A Guide for Trainees

Fraser, N. H.*

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European Journal of Anaesthesiology: September 2007 - Volume 24 - Issue 9 - p 817-818
doi: 10.1017/S0265021507000361
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N. Robinson, G. Hall (eds) Blackwell Publishing: Oxford, 2006, 3rd edn., 472 pp ISBN: 978072817737; Price £69.00

This is the third edition of what has become a very popular and well-received text. While it is primarily aimed at the novice anaesthetist, it has proved popular with Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) and anaesthetic nurses as well, and rightly so.

It is personally gratifying to review this book, as it was recommended to me when I was a novice anaesthetist, and I was mightily pleased with it. Here is a book that provides succinct yet comprehensive advice that truly helps you climb that steep learning curve, arming you with the knowledge that you seek to safely navigate that most stressful of times.

This pocket book manages to address most of the fundamental teaching about delivering anaesthesia. Indeed, delivery is what this book is all about; unlike traditional texts, this one tells you how to safely deliver an anaesthetic from start to finish, avoiding and managing pitfalls along the way. The pertinent points raised throughout the text are often illustrated by anecdotal humour, a device that not only makes for an entertaining read but also will no doubt assist with later recall.

The pragmatic layout of the book is the secret of how it has covered so much ground so efficiently. It comprises three main parts, each part comprising several chapters. Every chapter has a clear-cut introduction, a methodical structured explanation of the corroborative facts, finally closing with a candid conclusion. Throughout, it is well supported with boxes and clear diagrams detailing key points. All boxes and diagrams are listed after the contents, and a thorough index is included at the end.

Part 1, aptly named ‘Nuts and Bolts’, covers airway management, vascular access, fluids and equipment. This ‘highway code’ gives the reader a framework and insight into the anaesthetic room, covering many mandatory areas of knowledge.

Part 2, entitled ‘Crises and Complications’, addresses the major life-threatening scenarios. Each gives a classical description of pathogenesis, signs and symptoms and treatment. The last (new) chapter on ‘anaesthetic mishaps’ is packed with excellent practical advice.

Part 3 is all to do with the actual business of day-to-day anaesthesia. It starts with preoperative assessment and an excellent new chapter on recognition and management of the sick patient. Subsequent chapters cover emergency anaesthesia, regional anaesthesia and chapters on each major surgical specialty, highlighting the common procedures and relevant general considerations.

To those about to embark on a career in Anaesthesia, I wholeheartedly commend this book. If ever there was a book that can make a difference to a novice, then this is it. To the trainers of novice anaesthetists, please take note; do not lend them a copy as it may not be returned! Indeed, consider having your own ‘aide memoir’ copy as it will afford you a structured approach to training.

© 2007 European Society of Anaesthesiology