Keith G. Allman and Iain H. Wilson, Oxford University Press; 2016 ISBN 978-0-19-871941-0, Price £29.99
The Oxford Handbook series is well known and popular amongst anaesthetists both in and out of training. The Oxford Handbook of Anaesthesia continues with its winning formula of combining practical advice with essential background information on systemic conditions and their practical applications to anaesthetic practice. In this fourth edition, the original format is continued along with a new chapter on anaesthesia for obesity, crucial given the current global impact of obesity and implications to every type of anaesthetic.
The target readership is clinician anaesthetists facing practical clinical problems, but other theatre practitioners will benefit from the advice given, namely theatre practitioners and nurses involved in both operating theatre and pre-assessment work.
The book is divided into 44 chapters, with logical progression from general considerations, consent and risks to relevant medical diseases impacting anaesthesia, and finally some detailed chapters on sub-specialty anaesthetic practice. UK anaesthetists have predominantly provided the content, but a number of new international authors have been added for their expertise and knowledge. All the chapters are comprehensive, presented in sub-sections with text delivered in an easy-to-read bullet-point format, and with liberal use of simple tables summarising important information.
Chapters on anaesthesia by specialty open with key information displayed in useful tables, indicating likely operative duration, postoperative pain levels, and possible anaesthetic technique options. As with previous editions, the obstetric and paediatric sections are extensive in their content but highly relevant focusing on physiology and pharmacology, with practical advice and information on specialist anaesthetic conduct and management in emergency scenarios, with quick reference guides for practical advice when faced with these scenarios.
In this edition, in comparison with previous ones there is added emphasis on the critically ill patient and anaesthetic emergencies, with an entire colour-coded section for quick and easy reference. Importantly, all emergency scenarios are reinforced with well recognised algorithms, for example the UK Difficult Airway Society guidelines, forming part of helpful action plans. The practical anaesthesia section incorporates a number of varied yet relevant topical issues ranging from target-controlled infusions to herbal medicines and anaesthesia. Regional anaesthesia, best learnt with the use of images, is done in exactly this format with excellent use of schematic anatomical diagrams and ultrasound images in addition to a concise summary of relevant clinical knowledge on the conduct of regional techniques. An extensive drug formulary and anaesthetic data section adds to the variety of content in this book.
In conclusion, this updated edition of the Oxford Handbook series continues to be an excellent pocket-portable textbook, providing comprehensive clinical information in essential, relevant and useful points. It is very easy to navigate, readable, and is a practical guide to the practice of anaesthesia. It will be attractive to a wide audience, from trainee to experienced consultant and theatre teams in general.
Dr Christine Sathananthan
Specialty Registrar in Anaesthesia
Central School of Anaesthesia