Atlas of Anesthesia Volume VI: Pain Management . Series editor: Ronald D. Miller. Volume editor: Stephen E. Abram. New York, Churchill Livingstone, 1998. Pages: 248. List Price: $135.00.

In the series preface Dr. Miller describes the purpose of the multi-volume Atlas of Anesthesia  as offering the “largest and most comprehensive collection of teaching visuals in the field of anesthesiology.” The subject matter presented is to include “the most up-to-date information in a format that offers not only the finest images available but also unique schematic presentations.” To this end, this sixth volume of the series, edited by Stephen Abram and including an impressive collection of contributors, is a major success.

This volume covering the subspecialty area of pain management is divided into 15 chapters. Included are chapters covering the range of topics from the basic mechanisms of pain perception and processing; the clinical presentations of various pain syndromes from headache, neuropathic, visceral, sympathetically maintained, herpes zoster, cancer, back, and postoperative pain; to the pain management approaches of spinal cord stimulation, psychological therapy, occupational medicine, and physical rehabilitation. A chapter on outcomes assessment in the area of pain management is also included.

The subjects are presented with a brief introductory narrative followed by a series of illustrations, photographs, radiographs, flow diagrams, and tables, each with moderate to extensive legends to supplement and clarify the illustrative material. The illustrations are clear and relatively simple color line drawings. In some cases the illustrations are anatomically correct while others are simplified for illustrative purposes. The style of the tables, figures, diagrams, and drawings are consistent throughout the volume and are of above average to high quality. Appropriate bibliographical references for original information sources are included at the conclusion of each chapter.

As would be expected, some subject matter lends itself better to the atlas format than others. Chapters covering the topics of pain mechanisms and clinical presentations are appropriately and clearly presented through the use of various illustrations in the atlas format. Other chapters including those addressing the topics of occupational medicine, physical rehabilitation, and outcomes assessment for example, are somewhat less well suited to presentation in the atlas format and are largely presented in a series of tables with detailed legends. Some readers may find these topics more clearly discussed as presented in the more typical format found in texts, but the presentation of the material in tabular form does provide some illustrative supplementation to the traditional descriptive text found in other sources.

While neither intended nor successful in replacing other more authoritative texts covering the subject of pain management, the presentation of the variety of topics comprising the field of pain management in this volume of the Atlas of Anesthesia  provides a valuable source for simple and clear illustrations to supplement the material available from other sources. While not a recommended first text or sole source for the reader seeking an introduction or comprehensive review of the topic of pain management, this atlas should be considered by those seeking a more visually oriented presentation of many important aspects of the field. Designed to be used in combination with the traditional textbook, slide atlas, and CD-ROM formats, this atlas will serve as an important supplemental source for high-quality diagrams, figures, tables, photographs, and radiographs to aid both the teacher and the student of the field of pain management.