Operating Department Practice A–Z, 2nd Ed.
By Tom Williams and Brian Smith. Pp. 386. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 2008. Price: $70.2008
Many plastic surgeons hire individuals to work in their offices and outpatient operating facilities who have little to no medical training before their employment. Operating Department Practice A–Z is a dictionary of medical terminology that may be of use to them. The book was written for operating room personnel, but it includes information pertinent to activities outside the operating room. The preface includes 22 pages of abbreviations that one might see in medical records and, for example, informs the uninitiated that “SVT” represents “supraventricular tachycardia.” This is followed by a 7-page list of components of words, such as “arthro” and “retro,” and indicates that they mean “joint” and “backward.” The body of the book is organized as a dictionary, with words and names in alphabetical order. For each item, there is a “Quick Reference” and an “Advanced Reference.” For example, the “Quick Reference” for “Metzenbaum” is “Surgical Scissors,” and the “Advanced Reference” is “Surgeon's dissecting scissors, although originally designed as tonsil scissors. Named after American surgeon, they are light, slender, and relatively long and available in different sizes.” The authors are associated with a department of anesthesia in the United Kingdom, and the definitions provided for words relevant to plastic surgery are not entirely accurate. The “Quick Reference” for Z-plasty, for example, is “Term used to describe a type of surgical incision that takes the form of a Z.” The appendices include chemical symbols for elements and common compounds, normal values for common laboratory tests, and common classification systems, such as the Glasgow Coma Scale. The final two appendices list “useful Web sites” and a list of professional organizations. No Web sites or organizations related to plastic surgery are listed, however.
This book is directed at a level below that of a physician and would be of little value to either a practicing plastic surgeon or a resident. As suggested, it could be a useful general medical reference for operating room technicians or individuals with little medical training. It cannot be relied on for specific information related to plastic surgery, however, in that only a limited number of the citations relate to the specialty, and those that are offered are imprecise.
W. Thomas Lawrence, M.P.H., M.D.
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