A. Fein, S. Kamholz, D. Ost (eds) Hodder Arnold: London, 2006, 576 pp ISBN: 0340811951; Price £125.00
The version of this book I received to review was a beautifully bound hard copy that immediately inspired an interest. Its three editors manage 77 contributors based mainly in the USA, but with a smattering of Europeans and a lone author from India. The text is written in American English but the writing in all chapters is clear and concise, if occasionally a little brief. Each chapter is well referenced throughout, with a system that identifies seminal articles, key reviews and the first formal publication of management guidelines. This is a very helpful way of managing what, in some chapters, is often an overwhelming list of related articles. The book has four main sections: pathophysiology, diagnostics and interventions, diseases and syndromes, and special populations and situations.
The pathophysiology section comprises only three chapters. This is a brief overview that really covers only the essentials and should not be relied on to give a comprehensive review of this complex subject. The diagnostics and interventions section has six chapters ranging from airway management through non-invasive ventilation to chest tubes and thoracoscopy. Each of these chapters provides a good summary of the individual topics, but all could be improved with diagrams. The diseases and syndromes section covers all the commonly seen, and most of the uncommonly seen, respiratory emergencies seen by anaesthetists and intensivists, and the chapters on asthma and cardiogenic pulmonary oedema are particularly thorough reviews. The special populations and situations section is interesting and covers transplantation and HIV disease as well as a useful chapter on the intentional release of chemical and biological agents of terror, which provides an insight not often documented in texts like this. The final chapter concentrates on the paediatric population but is disappointingly brief.
Overall, the book is well presented and clearly written and would be a useful addition as a bench book in any critical care unit. Trainers may find it useful as a text to refer trainees to, and trainees will find the extensive and well-categorized references useful.