James C. Eisenach, M.D., Editor


Institution: University of Western Ontario

Author/Webmaster: David H Smith, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C). (david.smith@myself.com)

Physicians in training who use the Internet usually search for the same information as physicians who have completed their residency. Residents also have unique needs that may not be filled by Web pages that offer only scientific information. “Gaseous Anomaly” is a Web site designed for residents in anesthesiology and offers them a place on the Internet to find other residents, job listings, review articles, and other helpful information.

Gaseous Anomaly has a variety of resources and is well organized, and its information appears to be accurate. The information does not appear to have been peer-reviewed. The section entitled “Anesthesia Standards, Reviews, and Articles” is a page of links to external articles organized by the hosting institution. No indication is given whether these articles have subjected to any form of quality control, but they are all well written and appear to have been carefully chosen. These links include articles on carotid endarterectomy, management of the difficult airway, and various handbooks.

An “Anesthesia Lounge” appears to be an unmoderated discussion forum, as does the “Anesthesia Case Conference,” but both of these sections were empty at the time of review. They both allow any visitor to post a question or comment, which then appears on the Web site for subsequent viewers to read or reply to. A “Colleague Finder” allows visitors to search for information on other anesthesiologists who have entered themselves in a database. This does not appear to be moderated (i.e., anyone can enter themselves, and anyone can search), raising the possibility that this information can be used to create mailing lists. One of the most interesting features of the site is an interactive “chat” program that approximates a live conversation. When two or more visitors are in this “chat room,” they can communicate by typing. Anything typed by one user appears in a window on all other users' screens.

Gaseous Anomaly offers another unique service: a free E-mail account is available to anyone who passes a simple “skills test,” which consists of some basic questions about anesthesia. Although this is intended primarily for anesthesia residents, Dr. Smith has decided that “If you aren't in anesthesia and get these right, you've earned your free account too!”

All links were functional at the time that the site was reviewed. Each link is pertinent to the page on which it is located and also is identified by a concise, accurate description of the resource, but no contact information. As a novel feature, owners of other Web sites can send a small image to Dr. Smith, who then adds it to a rotating list of links on Gaseous Anomaly's front page.

The site is well organized but contains no search capabilities. Moving from one section to another requires the user to navigate up through one or more levels and then move back down.

Gaseous Anomaly is a unique resource that caters to anesthesiologists in training but offers information that is valuable to physicians who have completed their training. It makes heavy use of graphics, Java, and JavaScript and therefore requires a later generation Web client (Netscape Navigator 3.x, Netscape Communicator 4.01, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 were used for this review) and a fast Internet connection. The unique services that this resource provides are well worth the time required to download the latest client.

Keith J. Ruskin, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology; Yale University School of Medicine; 333 Cedar Street; New Haven, Connecticut