he Recent Advances in Surgery series, edited once more by Irving Taylor and Colin Johnson, has now reached its 30th edition and will be familiar to many surgical trainees and consultants. In recent years, the series has been published annually and the book consists of sections dedicated to some of the subspecialities within general surgery; a section entitled ‘Surgery in General’, which pertains to topics relevant to all practitioners of surgery; and finally a chapter reviewing recent randomised clinical trials. This edition includes sections dedicated to breast, gastrointestinal and vascular surgery. Contributors include both surgical trainees and leading consultants in their respective fields, including a number from overseas and those in other specialties where their expertise relates to the topic under consideration.
The information in the individual chapters is presented in a concise and readable format, with useful summary boxes containing key points. Relevant photographs, imaging and other illustrations are presented, with colour plates included in the section on vascular surgery.
The ‘Surgery in General’ section contains a thought-provoking chapter on risk management and, among other things, examines how this issue is addressed in a more systematic way by anaesthetists and the airline industry. The chapter on the surgical significance of MRSA is topical but consists largely of personal opinion and lacks a firm evidence-base. We were disappointed with the emphasis given to the role of medical staff’s clothing in the dissemination of MRSA while neglecting significance of high bed-occupancy rates prevalent in many NHS institutions.
Other chapters in this section discuss the emerging field of tissue engineering of blood vessels and newer procedures for day-case surgery. Further highlights include a useful review of the management of acute gallbladder disease and a review of the evidence for the surgical management of haemorrhoids. There is also a useful update on the multidisciplinary approach to the modern management of bleeding oesophageal varices, with contributions from a physician, surgeon and radiologist practising at the University of Cape Town.
The increasingly difficult task of staying up-to-date with new developments in the practice of general surgery is made easier to some degree by this series. We would recommend it to all basic and higher trainees within the increasingly superspecialised field of general surgery as well as consultants with an interest in the relevant sections of the book. In particular, this book is ideal for candidates preparing for final examinations prior to completion of training in general surgery. We hope the series continues in the future.