Anesthesia Review, 2nd Edition. By Michelle Bowman-Howard, M.D. Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006. Pages: 368. Price: $49.95.
With the 2008 American Board of Anesthesiology Board Certification Exam looming around the corner, thousands of CA-3 residents across the United States are desperately searching for a succinct yet comprehensive review book. Because there are countless varieties of review books on the market, it can be a daunting task to find one that offers adequate test preparation while at the same time reviewing and reorganizing all the hard-earned knowledge gained over the course of the residency. Fortunately, Anesthesia Review accomplishes both of these goals.
Much like the first edition originally published in 2000, this book follows the general format of the Barash textbook,1highlighting the major concepts in an open-ended question-and-answer format. Unlike other multiple-choice review books where the reader can get bogged down among incorrect answers, Anesthesia Review allows one to power through a high volume of important facts quickly and efficiently. The second edition improves on the first by including updated information, particularly on airway management, pharmacology, and patient safety. But unlike a typical question book, Anesthesia Review is organized by pooling 84 pages of questions followed by 224 pages of answers. At first, such a layout might seem inconvenient (with frequent back-and-forth page flipping), until one realizes that the answers themselves are in fact a well-organized outline of Barash. And as we all know, it would take nearly a lifetime, much less 3 yr of residency, to read the entirety of Barash, cover to cover.
The 12 chapters include all aspects of clinical anesthesiology practice, from short 8-page sections on pain management and regional anesthesia to extensive review chapters on board-heavy topics including pharmacology and subspecialty anesthesia. There is even a section on cancer therapy side effects, electrical safety, and rare and coexisting diseases such as myasthenia gravis and multiple sclerosis. Unique to this book is the last chapter on oral board review, including sample cases for preeclampsia, difficult airway, thoracic anesthesia, neuroanesthesia, and neonatal anesthesia, among others, for an appropriate and concise preview of the other impending board examination lurking just beyond graduation.
But is it readable? That is the real question. Although the answer explanations may not be written in the style of a gripping action thriller or even a juicy romance novel, not even Stephen King could coax excitement out of the Bezold-Jarisch reflex or α-stat arterial blood gases. Having said that, the explanations are well written, succinct, and most importantly, high yield. In addition, bold font helps to stress important concepts and visually partition the pages for a more effective read. Furthermore, references to supplemental texts throughout the answer section aid the curious reader who might want to independently review a topic in more detail. Finally, although the majority of the book is in text format, there are several pictures and tables for those topics where graphics facilitate understanding and memorizing, such as the central venous pressure tracing, the classification of different antiarrhythmics, and of course, everyone's favorite, the Mapleson circuits.
Overall, as loyal followers of other review books (most notably Anesthesiology Board Review in the Pearls of Wisdom series), we were at first skeptical but were later quite impressed with the second edition of Anesthesia Review . Its concise nature creates an extremely high-yield book that does not compromise the vast content that comprises an entire anesthesiology residency. There is an incredible sheer amount of knowledge contained within its pages. For senior residents preparing for the boards, or even current practitioners looking to brush up on their specialty, this book could be more valuable than the LMA-Fastrach ™.
*UCLA, Los Angeles, California. firstname.lastname@example.org