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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Michael F O'Connor, MD (University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine)
Description: This is another entry into the growing category of reference books patterned after several popular series in the lay press. Unlike the manuals or handbooks of yesteryear, which were designed to fit (barely) into the pocket of a lab coat, this is a full-size book intended to fit neatly into a pack or pile of papers. It covers the entire range of pain medicine with a large number (70) of brief chapters (370 pages). Most chapters are tersely written, with heavy reliance on the bulleted format.
Purpose: This book is clearly targeted at anesthesia residents and fellows participating in pain management, with explicit recognition of how its content reflects the syllabus for the pain boards. It is also intended to be a concise and highly useful reference for those who are called upon to manage pain less frequently — especially private practitioners and nonanesthesiologists (particularly rehabilitation physicians and neurologists). There has clearly been a need for such a book, and I anticipate that this will become a staple in pain clinics everywhere.
Audience: The list of authors is enormous, and they represent a cross section of the state-of-the-art in pain medicine. The book is clearly oriented to the practice of clinical pain management, with only a brief review of clinically relevant biology in the early portion of the book. Most of the relevant biology is embedded is relevant chapter — the kind of marriage of science and practice that most trainees desire and most quality teachers provide.
Features: The book sections and chapters are organized to mirror clinical pain management. The sections on acute, regional, and chronic pain include chapters that cover every important clinical problem in these domains. Special procedures unique to pain management are similarly covered. Procedures which might be performed by either trainees in pain or by the competent/occasional practitioner are generally well described and covered in appropriate detail, although the quantity and quality of the illustrations is highly variable and generally inferior to better known books in the field. The chapters on disability and return to work are brief and perhaps either too short or too ambitious. The brief index is less than helpful in locating valuable information in the dense text, which will frustrate some users.
Assessment: Residents and fellows may prefer this book to any out there, and are likely to read it before any of the longer, more definitive books on pain. It will be an invaluable reference in any clinic where pain is or might be managed, and an extraordinarily useful reference for practitioners who require a concise manual for pain management.