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Reviews of Educational Material  |   April 2005
Anatomy for Anaesthetists, 8th Edition.
Author Notes
  • Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
Article Information
Reviews of Educational Material / Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems / Pain Medicine
Reviews of Educational Material   |   April 2005
Anatomy for Anaesthetists, 8th Edition.
Anesthesiology 4 2005, Vol.102, 875-876. doi:
Anesthesiology 4 2005, Vol.102, 875-876. doi:
Anatomy for Anaesthetists, 8th Edition.  By Harold Ellis, C.B.E., M.A., D.M., F.R.C.S., F.A.C.S. (Hon.), Stanley Feldman, B.Sc., M.B., F.R.C.A., William Harrop-Griffiths, M.A., M.B., B.S., F.R.C.A., Andrew Lawson, F.F.A.R.C.S.I., F.A.N.Z.C.A., F.R.C.A., M.Sc. Williston, VT, Blackwell Publishing, 2004. Pages: 358. Price: $137.00.
The first edition of this book was published 41 yr ago. Such longevity speaks well for the contributions it has made to the specialty of anesthesiology and indicates that the seven previous editions have been revised carefully and thoughtfully, or else the book would not now still be in use. With each revision, most books tend to grow in length as new information is added. Deciding what to delete is not easy. This edition is 18 pages shorter than the previous one but has 14 more figures than the fifth edition. It also has a new 11-page, four-figure concise chapter on anatomy of pain written by Andrew Lawson, F.F.A.R.C.S.I., F.A.N.Z.C.A., F.R.C.A., M.Sc. (Consultant in Anesthesia and Pain Management, Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, United Kingdom). No doubt this reflects the care and thoughtfulness with which the revision has been done. The new chapter is an important addition in that pain management is an area that has undergone substantial expansion in knowledge since the previous revision was done.
Importantly, the illustrations, almost all of which were newly drawn or redrafted for the sixth edition, have been further revised for the current edition. This process has resulted in high-quality black-and-white line drawings with all nerves shown in bright yellow, as is traditionally done in gross anatomy books. Figure 140 is an exception to the typical high-quality figures in this revised book. It indicates surface landmarks that can be used to define the course of the sciatic nerve in the buttocks and upper thigh. It suggests that a line be drawn between the posterior superior iliac spine and the greater trochanter of the femur. From the midpoint of this line, a perpendicular line is drawn, and a point 4–5 cm down this line is said to lie over the sciatic nerve. What is different about the figure is that it shows the line terminating on the greater trochanter just above the shaft of the femur rather than on the highest point. This new location of termination is at variance with most other reports. A trip by this reviewer to the gross anatomy laboratory indicated that this small change in the termination of the posterior superior iliac spine to greater trochanter line moved the point of insertion of the needle away from the location of the sciatic nerve.
This new edition, like previous ones, is not organized by chapters, but rather by parts (eight in all). These units perhaps more closely fit a system of regional organization of the body but typically include only those parts of the body or system that have special significance to the practice of anesthesiology.
Finally, what is the purpose of this book, and who will it serve? In the Introduction, the authors indicate that the book is not intended to be a textbook for regional anesthetic techniques. Rather, it is an anatomy book written for anesthetists, keeping in mind the special requirements of their daily practice, one of which is a shortage of time. I find the book an excellent match for that goal. The book is organized to present anatomy that is of specific interest and needed for the practice of anesthesiology. Its organization and indexing allow a busy practitioner to quickly review areas of interest. The breadth and depth of the material covered and its concise presentation will allow the book to be a useful resource to those preparing for certification examinations in the specialty as well as for the difficult case coming to surgery in an hour.