Anesthesiology Board Review, 2nd Edition. By Kerri M. Robertson, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C), David A. Lubarsky, M.D., M.B.A., and Sudharma Ranasinghe, M.D., F.F.A.R.C.S.I. New York, McGraw-Hill, 2006. Pages: 431. Price: $59.95.

The second edition of Anesthesiology Board Review  is part of the Pearls of Wisdom medical review book series obtained by McGraw-Hill from Boston Medical Publishing last year. As such, it uses the “rapid-fire” approach of a single question immediately followed by the answer. There is no single best answer, and there is no K-type question in this book. There is also no more flipping back and forth between questions and answers.

Obviously, this text does not simulate the written boards. That is not its purpose. If you want to practice test taking, rather invest in excellent resources such as those by Hall and Chantigian1or Dershwitz.2However, if you want a book that you can pick up anytime, peruse any section of, and set down without losing your place, this may be the book for you. Like many books in the Pearls of Wisdom series, it is simply a collection of facts and bulleted items that one needs to know to excel on the written boards. The questions vary from the esoteric (Q: How are the genotypes of the plasma cholinesterase named? A: E1uE1u[“usual”], E1uE1a[heterozygous atypical] and E1aE1a[homozygous atypical]) to the simplistic (Q: Does epinephrine cause bronchodilation? A: yes) and include everything in between.

Unfortunately, there are several critiques that distract from the quality of this work. In a book with “3750+ rapid-fire questions,” minor mistakes are inevitable (“PAO2” when “SAO2” should have been used [p. 23]; “Removing leukocytes prevents graft versus host disease … and irradiation prevents the transmission of CMV” transposed the intervention with the desired outcome [p. 31]; and “adduction” used when the authors clearly meant “ab  duction”[p. 33]). Is this overly critical? Maybe. However, the three mistakes cited are from pages 1 through 33, and the book is 397 pages, excluding bibliography. Admittedly, this was a deterrent to forging on beyond chapter 3. Fortunately, more egregious errors or grossly outdated information were less common, although still present (e.g. , management of meconium aspiration [p. 224] does not reflect the International Guidelines for Neonatal Resuscitation,3and the answer to the question “Is there any evidence to support the use of corticosteroids in septic shock?”[p. 124] would certainly upset Dr. Annane et al.  4).

As for the organization of the text, the topics are arranged alphabetically. For the most part, this format works just fine and is consistent with the overall goal of the book. However, the “Neonatal Anesthesia” and “Pediatric Anesthesia” chapters are separated by 80 pages, and additional pediatric questions are found in the “Outpatient Surgery” and “Pharmacogenetics” chapters. Likewise, regional anesthesia is divided into “Peripheral Nerve Blocks,”“Local Anesthetics,” and “Caudal, Epidural and Spinal Anesthesia,” with more than 120 pages between each of the three sections. This does not matter if the reader plans to read the book in its entirety. However, it is not conducive to a quick review of topics that are usually and logically included under the same heading. Beyond the arrangement of the text, some chapters should be expanded or revised significantly. “Critical Care Medicine” is both anemic and farcical, covering a mere 3 pages, with more questions on hyperbaric oxygen (three) and total parenteral nutrition (four) than on sepsis (two) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (two). A few more questions on sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome are present, but the reader must locate them elsewhere.

Overall, despite its limitations, Anesthesiology Board Review  may have a place among the growing list of anesthesia board review books. If one can master the content in this book, a passing grade on the written boards is likely. It covers enough of the important topics, and if time is of the essence (i.e. , you have procrastinated and it is now the first week of July), it provides a quick reference that can be read when one has a few minutes to spare. If the goal is to excel on the boards, however, the reader may prefer looking to more substantive and established texts.

Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota.

Anesthesia: A Comprehensive Review, 3rd edition. Edited by Hall BA, Chantigian RC. Philadelphia, Mosby, 2003
Hall BA, Chantigian RC
The MGH Board Review of Anesthesiology, 5th edition. Edited by Dershwitz M. New York, Appleton & Lange, 1999Dershwitz M
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Appleton & Lange
American Heart Association in Collaboration with the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation: Guidelines 2000 for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Circulation 2000;102 (suppl):I343–57
American Heart Association in Collaboration with the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation
Annane D, Sebille V, Charpentier C, Bollaer PE, Francois B, Korach JM, Capellier G, Cohen Y, Azoulay E, Troche G, Chaumet-Riffaut P, Bellissant E: Effect of treatment with low doses of hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone on mortality in patients with septic shock. JAMA 2002; 288:862–71