James C. Eisenach, M.D., Editor

Rapid-sequence Review of Anesthesiology: With Time-limited Pressure. By Won K. Chee. Boston, Butterworth-Heinemann, 1997. Pages: 168. Price:$35.00.

In the late 1970s, there was no American reference textbook of anesthesiology. A good introductory textbook had been available for 20 years, and a few subspecialty textbooks were in print, but no one on this side of the Atlantic Ocean had put together a complete reference textbook on anesthesiology for some time. By the late 1980s, so many textbooks on anesthesiology had been published that they could be grouped according to their purpose and function. Anesthesia textbooks were available as general reference textbooks, subspecialty monographs, introductory books, review textbooks, handbooks, and pocket manuals. Second and third edition reference textbooks grew to two or three volumes to include more facts; one publisher reduced print size to prevent a text from becoming overweight. Portability became a problem for some excellent publications. Well-motivated students could and do still study the entire contents of these texts over many months, yet the need for distillations of the expanding anesthesiology knowledge base arose for times when a quicker review was needed. Dr. Chee has provided us with a review textbook that might be studied quickly. Its format is devoted totally to outlines and tables and an occasional schematic diagram, allowing a reader to skim through information in a rapid sequence.

Although the outline format might limit the depth of content possible, the learning style of the reader must be considered when a review textbook is chosen. Most publications use sentences, paragraphs, tables, and figures to convey knowledge to a reader. We have been learning that way all our lives. Some students have a particular affinity for a question and answer format. There are popular review textbooks composed almost entirely of multiple choice questions. Patient-oriented reviews are structured around evaluation and management plans for actual or imagined patients. Some students have a particular facility for thinking in terms of outlines and lists; certain tasks in medicine such as considering differential diagnoses or treatment options are particularly well suited to outlines.

Those who like to think in terms of outlines will appreciate Dr. Chee's review. It literally fulfills its claim to provide succinct and relevant information in a highly concentrated and clarified form for those who seek quick, conceptual orientation in clinical anesthesiology. Superficiality is the price paid for brevity here, but textbooks much larger than this one can also be called superficial when compared with a multivolume reference work: review textbooks are designed for different purposes than reference textbooks. This review will refresh the reader's organization of facts, although a much greater depth of knowledge will be necessary. Its lack of index and references limit further reading, although the book's tables are often helpful for collecting, comparing, and contrasting some areas of important clinical information (i.e., management of valvular heart diseases, p 32). Those who seek a rapid-sequence review and prefer to learn in an outline format will appreciate Dr. Chee's contribution to the literature.

Ronald J. Faust, M.D.

Professor of Anesthesiology; Mayo Medical School; Rochester, Minnesota 55905