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February 26, 1982

Davis-Christopher Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice

JAMA. 1982;247(8):1184. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320330080036

Smith's Papyrus, Osler's Medicine, and Sabiston's Surgery—these are probably the three most widely read medical texts in history. The 1977 edition of the latter has been translated into six languages besides English. The obvious question is, Why a 12th edition written only four years after the last?

Justification for the new edition lies primarily in the first half of this massive (2,481 pages) new testament. If it were merely an atlas of operative surgery or a standard surgical text, a stately edition every ten to 15 years would serve. But as the subtitle indicates, the objective of this text is to describe the biological basis of modern surgical practice—a field where the doubling time approaches that of a rabbit. This remarkable text, which is almost as much a medical as a surgical textbook, is therefore among other things a summary of "what's new in surgical biology?" The answer is,