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Book Review
January 2000

Advanced Surgical Recall

Author Affiliations
 

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edited by Lorne H. Blackbourne, MD, and Kirk J. Fleischer, MD, 1403 pp, $33.20, ISBN 0-683-00834-X, Baltimore, Md, Williams & Wilkins, 1997.

Arch Surg. 2000;135(1):93. doi:

This review manual has recently been published and represents a collaborative effort by 73 contributors under the guidance of Lorne H. Blackbourne, MD, and Kirk J. Fleischer, MD, the senior editors.

This remarkably comprehensive work of 1403 pages within 56 chapters easily fulfills its role as a review guide for fourth-year medical students, house officers, and even practicing surgeons. The readers of this guide should have a reasonable grasp of general surgery and should have at least read through one of the basic (essentials type) surgical texts before tackling this book. This tool will serve to logically organize essential information for the reader and reinforce important concepts. All information is presented in an effective manner with the question in the left-hand column and its answer in the right-hand column, allowing the reader to get into a rhythm while studying. The first major subdivision, "Introduction and Background Surgical Information," is extremely well written and has novel sections such as surgical anatomy and operative pearls, which understandably describe important landmarks and techniques using clear diagrams. Many sections have a "Power Review" that further distills the questions to their bare bones to allow readers to gauge their own comprehension. This introductory section (which really represents the first 10 chapters of modern surgical texts) really prepares the reader for today's examinations, which are weighted heavily towards the basic sciences. In the second section, "General Surgery," general surgical problems are clearly presented by individual organ. This section also contains important sections on trauma, laparoscopy, lymphoma, melanoma, and critical care medicine. Most sections begin with a thorough discussion of anatomy and physiology, emphasizing the basic sciences. Two sections deserve some critique. When reading the book through in its entirety, the section on carcinoid is noticeably too long and detailed compared with the occurrence of this disease in our patients. The second section of note is the discussion of appendicitis. The problem there is a somewhat dogmatic presentation of this disease's workup. Specifically, the section states that radiologic tests (ie, computed tomography or ultrasound) are hardly ever indicated and that if the patient is hungry he or she almost certainly does not have appendicitis. The practitioner or senior resident might be able to filter this out but medical students might be just slightly misinformed. On balance, however, the sections are remarkably consistent in their writing style and level of detail, which is a real tribute to the editors. The last section covers "Surgical Subspecialties." The reader preparing for the American Board of Surgery Inservice Training Examination would do well to read through all these final sections, although, if pressed for time, concentration on the cardiac, thoracic, vascular, pediatric, and transplantation sections might suffice. A few sections include memory aids such as first letters of words to help remember lists. These are subtly presented and do not offend the reader who prefers other memory techniques. Current surgical management is comprehensively but concisely presented for all relevant surgical disease. References are listed in the back of the book. The index is excellent and always allowed me to find any topic quickly. Approximately 1% to 2% of the material is repeated (occasionally verbatim) between sections. This is not a shortcoming, however, and allows readers to self-test and permits each section to stand on its own. A potentially unadvertised use of this book is as a source of questions to use on ward rounds for senior residents and junior faculty.

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