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New Edition (6th) is Worth Buying
on January 22, 2009
Yao and Artusio's sixth edition is a valuable, clinically oriented reference. The 2008 version of this venerable book continues a tradition of excellence, while updating and adding new information. I recommend it to all practitioners of anesthesia.
The chapter list has a few changes, but remains similar to past editions. The format of case presentations, questions and answers has not changed since I was a resident in the late 80's. The editors have imposed a uniform chapter template upon all 77 authors, perhaps through the liberal use of whips and chains. There are an increasing number of experts from outside institutions, but this is largely a product of Cornell University and the New York City gas-passers. Among a host of new authors, there are many familiar names from prior editions. This is not a bad thing: the scholarship and writing are excellent. I remember that some of my professors used to look down their noses at this book, opining that it was not sufficiently academic. Nevertheless, the good clinicians on the faculty endorsed it wholeheartedly.
There are some small details that missed the editors' scrutiny. Some of the older chapters haven't been completely updated. Dr. Yao refers to a 1991 study as "recently reported." He still asks that question about the effects of cimetidine on asthma, and on aminophylline levels. A hypertensive patient is on propranolol and captopril. I don't know if those drugs are in everyday use elsewhere, but it was a trip down memory lane for me!
The references cited are often other textbooks, not original articles. This is in keeping with the practical nature of the book. When you are under the gun you want the facts, not a lot of theory. No need to refer to Anesthesiology's collection of exotica, which is often as relevant to my practice as the adventures of the Mars Rovers.
Compared to the 5th edition, the new volume is heftier, with 120 additional pages. The editors have maintained the 9 by 7 inch size, which is easier to carry and read than a full size text. It is too heavy for a portable quick reference, however.
This book is not inherently fascinating. I would not read it for pleasure. It contains lists of differential diagnoses, classifications, and predictors. Important stuff, but not easy to read. Yet it is a very useful reference. I think it is essential for preparation for the oral boards (I disagree with another reviewer who considers it too detailed for oral board review), or as a review for an upcoming case. I also use it to outline some of my lectures for residents. It combines a decent scientific foundation with a real life practicality, a practicality which is sorely missing from many anesthesia texts.