Procedures and Techniques in Intensive Care Medicine, Second Edition. Edited by Richard S. Irwin, James M. Rippe, Frank B. Cerra, Frederick J. Curley, Stephen O. Heard. Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1999. Pages: 307. Cost: $59.00.

In the preface of Procedures and Techniques in Intensive Care Medicine , 2nd edition, the editors state that this book is reprinted directly from the first section of Irwin and Rippe’s Intensive Care Medicine , 4th edition (edited by Richard S. Irwin, Frank B. Cerra, James M. Rippe, Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1998), one of the classic textbooks of critical care. The editors intend their work to be a “comprehensive guide to techniques and procedures in intensive care” in which “every procedure and technique required for certification in critical care or tested in internal medicine, surgical, anesthesiology or critical care board examination is presented and discussed in depth.” This book clearly meets or exceeds these goals.

This multidisciplinary text has 31 chapters contributed by 45 authors from various parts of the United States. The topic of each chapter is a specific procedure, and all imaginable procedures are discussed, from airway management and endotracheal intubation to temporary mechanical assistance for left ventricular failure. Each chapter discusses applied anatomy and physiology in a general manner and then presents indications, contraindications, equipment, techniques, and complications. Most chapters make good use of tables, figures, and black-and-white photographs and are extensively referenced. However, many references are from as early as 1996 or 1997.

The quality of the chapters is excellent and consistent throughout the book. Controversial material is presented fairly and is clearly identified as controversial (such as timing of tracheostomy in chapter 16, use of antibiotic impregnated catheters in chapter 2, and so forth). The text is well-organized, with minimal overlap of material among chapters, and the index is complete and easy to use.

Because this text is reprinted from a larger book, there are some references to chapters in the larger book that are not in this text, such as in chapter 1, in which the reader is referred to chapter 66 for a discussion on weaning from mechanical ventilation, or in chapter 4, in which the reader is referred to chapters 36, 37, 41, 59, and 177 for more detailed discussions of diseases in which pulmonary artery catheters may be useful. I found this distracting because I wanted to check these references in the larger book.

Some newer monitoring techniques (such as continuous cardiac output, lithium dilution cardiac output, carbon dioxide elimination cardiac output, and so forth) are not discussed, and I found no information about monitoring the neuromuscular junction.

The editors believe that this “separate, more portable book will be useful not only to critical care specialists, but also to emergency department physicians, surgeons, CCRNs, and general medical residents.” I do not think this 81/2 × 11-in, 3/4-in–thick book is very portable. Also, costing $59, it is rather expensive. I think a smaller, more focused, less expensive handbook that could be carried in a coat pocket could be an excellent future project for these authors.

This book is thorough, well-balanced, and discusses almost all procedures and techniques in critical care. This work, or the larger textbook, should be available in all areas where critical care is practiced.