The Year in Anaesthesia and Critical Care. Volume 1. By Jennifer M. Hunter, M.B., Ch.B., Ph.D., F.R.C.A., Tim M. Cook, B.A., M.B.B.S., F.R.C.A., Hans-Joachim Priebe, M.D., F.R.C.A., F.F.A.R.C.S.I., and Michel M. R. F. Struys, M.D., Ph.D. Oxford, United Kingdom, Clinical Publishing, 2005. Pages: 447. Price: $119.95.

Busy, practicing anesthesiologists are often looking for a method to familiarize themselves with new medical knowledge, techniques, and equipment but are challenged to do so in an evidence-based fashion. This first volume of The Year in Anaesthesia and Critical Care  aims to do just that. It is geared toward providing the practicing clinician with a balanced view of the recent literature with commentaries from a stellar, international group of editors.

Rather than being comprehensive, the editors have chosen four topic areas with recent development: perioperative care, anesthetic pharmacology, new technologies in anesthesia, and critical care. Although there is no detail on the manner in which articles or topic areas were selected, most major U.S. and European journals in anesthesiology and critical care are referenced. A list of the publications that this book surveys would be very useful. The book is nicely arranged and formatted for easy reading. The editor of each topic area summarizes the existing literature with comments and references. The selected articles are then reviewed by experts in the field. Commentary is offered with regard to study design and clinical impact. The focus is mainly clinical. Many articles included are meta-analyses or major randomized trials (SAFE, B-Aware). The variety of articles is impressive, and most of the year’s controversial topics are represented; subjects such as the use of critical care outreach and use of depth of anesthesia monitors were well covered. There are excellent reviews of off-pump cardiac surgery, pharmacogenetics, and the use of ultrasound techniques—new ground for the practitioner. The articles on new technology—airway devices, noninvasive cardiac monitors, and ultrasound techniques for regional anesthesia—are very helpful for those making decisions about new equipment (but pictures of the airway devices should have been included). There was an overabundance of literature on colloids and crystalloids as overviews partly because the topic spans both the critical care and perioperative care sections. One article was reviewed in two places. Another subject could have been covered, perhaps an update on acute respiratory distress syndrome management or bioterrorism. It was noted that disclaimers for industry support were supplied for the editors but not for authors of articles introducing new equipment and devices.

When determining the usefulness of a new publication, one should compare the information to that which already exists. A similar publication is the Yearbook ® series, albeit presented as separate volumes for anesthesiology and pain management and for critical care medicine. These books also are clinically focused but cover a greater number of subjects. The Yearbook ® volumes, however, do not provide the same depth of coverage, lacking the useful overview and background information found in The Year in Anaesthesia and Critical Care . Current Opinion in Critical Care , another popular periodical with edited comments, is published bimonthly and includes more basic science coverage in addition to clinical reviews. This periodical is available on-line and so has an advantage over the annual volume format.

On balance, this is a very valuable book for those wishing to review and update their knowledge in the areas covered. It is geared to the practicing physician and will contribute to professional development. It will also be of value to those approaching their oral examinations because both contemporary basic science and clinical areas of interest and controversy are discussed. I will certainly be on the lookout for next year’s edition and will request that my department buy it for our library.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee.