Oxford University Press, 2014
Price £75 (∼€92); ISBN: 978-0-19-960995-6
The problem with many general anaesthetic textbooks is the depth they cover various topics - some too much, others too little. Advanced Training in Anaesthesia: the essential curriculum strikes a good balance between these two extremes.
The book is presented in a 558 page paperback format, weighing in at 400 g and measuring 196 × 265 mm. Therefore, it is more fitting for a place on a personal or department library shelf, than a handbook to carry around. There are two main sections, the first covering applied basic sciences, while the second covers clinical anaesthesia, in a total of 28 chapters. Each chapter is further sub-divided into individual topics, each of which is covered within a manageable one to three pages. The topics are covered in a logical order, starting with background information, applied basic sciences, incidence and pathogenesis where relevant. They then move on to anaesthetic significance, investigation and peri-operative anaesthetic management, before finishing with a list of further reading.
The breadth and depth of the text have been pitched at a level suited to trainees studying for the UK Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) Final FRCA (or other European) examination, and individual subjects have been written to mirror the style of questioning used in both the written and structured oral examinations. It will also be of use to those studying other professional examinations in anaesthesia. The content has been well thought out, being matched to the RCoA intermediate training curriculum. Focusing on the knowledge competencies set out for the essential and optional units of training, it is especially valuable if experience of a particular sub-specialty of anaesthesia (such as cardiac, thoracic or neuroanaesthesia) is lacking prior to the examination. Pictures and diagrams are used sparingly, but those included are worth the column space they occupy. One such example is the regional anaesthesia chapter. There is a good mix of diagrams, photographs and ultrasound sonoanatomy making the topic very clear. Tables and summary boxes are used much more freely. This is extremely useful for those preparing for examinations, maximising time and marks attainable under exam conditions. The outcomes of landmark papers influencing current practice are not directly referenced to the relevant text. Although only a small criticism this would have been useful, as it would allow the reader to assimilate clinical evidence to current guidelines and best practice.
This book is a natural progression from Training in Anaesthesia: a curriculum-based guide that is aimed at trainees studying for the Primary FRCA examination. Advanced Training in Anaesthesia: the essential curriculum has a unique selling point in its versatility, appealing to trainees and consultants alike. It will be useful whether it is used for exam preparation (UK or European), or to refresh one's knowledge prior to an unusual, difficult or high risk case. I would recommend this to fellow anaesthetists and only wish it had come into print a couple of years sooner.
Dr Richard Kemp
Specialty Registrar in Anaesthesia
Nottingham City Hospital
E-mail: [email protected]