James C. Eisenach, M.D., Editor

The Neuroanesthesia Handbook. David J. Stone, Richard J Sperry, Joel O. Johnson, Burkhard F. Spiekermann, Terrance A. Yemen. St. Louis, Mosby, 1996. Pages: 516. Price:$39.95.

Fundamentals of Anaesthesia and Acute Medicine: Neuroanaesthetic Practice. Edited by H. Van Aken. Series editors: Ronald M. Jones, Alan R. Aitkenhead, and Pierre Foex. BMJ Publishing, 1995. Pages: 307. Price:[pound sterling] 33.00.

Several excellent, full-sized textbooks currently describe anesthetic concerns for neurosurgery. The editors of The Neuroanesthesia Handbook attempted to provide a pocket-sized book that functions as a mini-textbook for the resident commencing a rotation in a neurosurgical anesthesia area. Several of the editors previously participated in production of The Manual of Neuroanesthesia, published in 1989. This new handbook is significantly updated and clearly distinct in approach when compared with the previous edition.

Particularly enjoyable and extremely relevant to the area of neuroanesthesia is the introductory chapter on neurosurgical anatomy. This multi-authored chapter, by Andrew Chenelle, Mark Shaffrey, Christopher Shaffrey, and David Stone, is profusely illustrated with practical drawings of the cerebral anatomy, as viewed by the neurosurgeon during most common procedures. To the novice practitioner who may not appreciate the surgical challenge of areas such as the posterior fossa, this anatomy is quite enlightening. Additional chapters of the book that are particularly informative include the chapters on pharmacology, by Steven T. Farnsworth and Joel O. Johnson, and the sections produced by Richard J. Sperry, including positioning in neurosurgery, posterior fossa surgery, and anesthesia for patients with spinal cord injury. Robert S. Holtzman tackles anesthesia and neuroradiology. He provides a detailed and informative discussion of the problems of anesthesia remote from the operating room and describes functional evaluation in neuroradiology, a process anesthesiologists must understand to provide optimum care. The chapter on anesthesia for craniofacial and craniobasal surgery produced by Drs. Terrance A. Yemen and David L. Bogdonoff also is excellent.

In this multi-authored text, the editors made minimal alterations to each contribution. The occasional stylistic inconsistency may be slightly disconcerting, but if the text is used as expected, the resident and fellowship trainee in neuroanesthesia gains a surprisingly complete and valuable quick reference text. This new work is a fine addition to the teaching arena of neuroanesthesia, and, reasonably priced, it is well within the budget of most anesthesia trainees and clinicians interested in a “handy neuroanesthesia text.”

A somewhat larger paperback, but not quite pocket-sized, Neuroanesthetic Practice, edited by Hugo Van Aken, is the first of a new series of Fundamentals of Anesthesia and Acute Medicine that aims to update readers with authoritative reviews of the principal clinical topics that compose specialty areas in anesthesia. Chapters in this inaugural volume cover fundamentals, but emphasize recent developments and controversial issues within the realm of neuroanesthesia. Some of the more interesting chapters contained within this text include a survey of neurologic diseases encountered in an intensive care unit, authored by I. Bone, Jar Nicoll, and Di Graham; anesthetic agents and total intravenous and inhalational anesthesia, authored by Hugo Van Aken; and intraoperative and postoperative monitoring of the central nervous system for neurosurgery, written by Christian Werner and Eberhard Kochs. Overall, the contributions to Neuroanesthetic Practice are well written and have been solicited from recognized experts in the field of neuroanesthesia. References are complete, and the discussions are thought-provoking. This text would serve as an introductory text to neuroanesthesia, but would most likely be more valuable for a trainee pursuing the specific subspecialty of neuroanesthesia in a fellowship. A practitioner, already reasonably well-grounded in the principles and general knowledge basis of neuroanesthetic practice, would likely enjoy the update. The cost of the volume is not prohibitive, and would make this work a welcome addition to the shelves of most practicing anesthesiologists.

Patricia H. Petrozza, M.D., Department of Anesthesia, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157–1009.