Surgical Intensive Care Medicine. By John M. O'Donnell and Flávio E. Nácul. Burlington, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001. Pages: 900. Price $150.00.

Drs. O'Donnell and Nacul have to be commended for their book entitled Surgical Intensive Care Medicine  that summarizes, in 900 pages, the basic knowledge required to handle postoperative critically ill patients. In fact, the book is composed of two different parts: the first part contains basic principles of critical care medicine, such as airway management, vascular cannulation, evaluation of hemodynamics, sedation, infection, acid-base balance, gas exchange, etc. ; the second part concerns the specificities related to major surgical procedures, such as burns, orthopedic trauma, digestive, and cardiac or lung surgery. Great attention is paid to organ transplantation, with a whole chapter on “Care of the Organ Donor.” The authors took the option to imbricate these two parts rather than to separate general principles of intensive care medicine from specialized surgical intensive care. As a consequence, the book resembles a book on general intensive care medicine but constantly refers to surgical situations where specific postoperative problems calls for directed attitudes and therapies. This articulation keeps the attention of the reader and facilitates understanding.

The chapters are written clearly and concisely. Illustrations, which could have been a little more developed, clarify and outline the most important points. The references are up-to-date and have been selected properly. Controversies on hot topics are identified clearly and treated in a balanced manner. In general, with a few exceptions like the chapter on venous thromboembolism, the numbers of abbreviations is reasonable and does not complicate the reading. Some chapters (such as “The Abdominal Compartment Syndrome,”“Care of the Organ Donor,” and “Disorders of Thermoregulation”) are original and add something new when compared to previous books published on critical care medicine. The book is easy to use, has an extensive index that is appropriate for rapidly finding a specific topic. At the end of the book, the authors also have provided a list of Web sites that should facilitate contacts and access to multiple sources of information regarding surgical critical care.

The book Surgical Intensive Care Medicine  will be an invaluable resource for residents and or anesthesiologists involved in surgical intensive care medicine, because it gives a synthetic and upgraded overview on a rapidly moving field. I strongly recommend this book, which should take its place in the break room of many intensive care units.