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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Bernard Wittels, MD, PhD (University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine)
Description: Much of the content and format of this new edition of a classic obstetric anesthesia book parallels that of the previous edition, but with significant scientific updates and a few new chapters and appendixes. The book was last published in 1993.
Purpose: The authors state the goal of the book is to serve as a foundation for students to learn about this challenging field of medicine and for clinicians to initiate a safe and effective practice of obstetric anesthesia. By following the format of previous editions, the authors fulfill their objectives, but tend to recapitulate and expand the wealth of information presented in previous editions while de-emphasizing a more focused approach toward a limited number of major learning objectives. As a result, this book may have developed its own niche in obstetric anesthesia education, but in doing so has limited its usefulness.
Audience: Much of the information presented relates to the basic scientific knowledge of obstetrics, pregnancy, local anesthetics, opioids, etc., that serves as a necessary foundation for medical students. Clinical information is presented with editorial comment in an open manner for clinicians to appraise for use in their own practices. Chapter authors are well known authorities in the field of obstetric anesthesia, and they make their personal preferences well known.
Features: The book covers all the standard obstetric anesthesia topics (physiology of pregnancy, anesthesia for labor, cesarean delivery, hemorrhage, etc.) as well as some outstanding chapters on amniotic fluid embolism and cardiac disease, and an excellent section of four appendices that include current ACOG and SOAP society guidelines. All of the tables and figures are black and white. Chapter references are voluminous and relatively well updated.
Assessment: As an update, this book stays true to course with respect to its basic educational goals and the personal style of author presentations. The nine-year hiatus between editions certainly dated the third edition, but several other obstetric anesthesia texts have been published in the interim. For example, a more objective style with a more concise, directed review of take-home points is found in Chestnut's Obstetric Anesthesia: Principles and Practice, 2nd edition (Mosby, 1999). For more advanced clinical management scenarios, there is Datta's Anesthetic and Obstetric Management of High-Risk Pregnancy (Mosby, 1996). Overall, however, the new edition of this book remains a classic with strengths in basic scientific knowledge content and references to the current literature and to current guidelines for clinical care.