Reviews of Educational Material  |   August 2004
The Pharmacology of Inhaled Anesthetics
Author Notes
  • Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota.
Article Information
Reviews of Educational Material
Reviews of Educational Material   |   August 2004
The Pharmacology of Inhaled Anesthetics
Anesthesiology 8 2004, Vol.101, 563. doi:
Anesthesiology 8 2004, Vol.101, 563. doi:
The Pharmacology of Inhaled Anesthetics.  By Edmond I Eger II, M.D., James B. Eisencraft, M.D., Richard B. Weiskopf, M.D., Baxter Healthcare Corporation, New Providence, New Jersey, 2003. ISBN: TXV1-035635. Pages: 327 and 2 DVDs. Price: Complimentary.
Everything changes. The publisher used to be the first thing listed after the authors and title of a book (but this book doesn’t list a publisher). It used to be that the copyright of a text would not be in the name of the first author (like this one). In the past, if a book was said to be made possible by an unrestricted grant from a drug company, its content would be suspect. But again, everything changes, and this is an outstanding integration of text and audiovisual material that addresses an important topic.
This hardcover text comes with two very professionally prepared DVDs showing Dr. Eger lecturing to residents and nurse anesthetists at North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, as part of what is said to be the Dannemiller Distinguished Professor Program. The DVDs contain 8 hours of lecture interspersed with figures, tables, questions to and from the learners, and brief clips of operating room demonstrations of various clinical points. In addition to knowing the answers to virtually all of Dr. Eger’s questions, the students vary from reality in their fairly formal attire and that they seem to never tire during the 8 hours of didactic instruction (plus, they take no notes, refer to no papers or personal digital assistants, and no beepers sound off)! The text is clearly augmented by the DVDs, which closely follow the content of the book’s 16 chapters. The figures in the DVDs are not only more numerous than those in the text; they are more instructive because they are multicolor and Dr. Eger emphasizes the salient points while you study them.
The well-referenced text covers everything from history to mutagenicity to vaporization of the inhalation anesthetics. Pharmacokinetics and effects on various organ systems comprise the majority of the content. Questions and objectives with each chapter reinforce learning and enable the program to qualify for continuing medical education credit. Unlike much educational material, which is often prepared by those who did not contribute to the science, these authors performed much of the foundational work in the field, and their expertise shines through.
This package uses multiple formats to strengthen learning. Educational research suggests that most live lectures lead to retention of only a small percentage of retained new knowledge on the part of the learner. A lecture on DVD might actually be a better learning tool than a live lecture, because in addition to picking the ideal time and place for study, the student can easily review parts not understood the first time they are heard. “When the wheels aren’t tuning, there is no learning” is a motto of Philip Liu, M.D. (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA), founder of the Society for Education in Anesthesia (Park Ridge, IL), as he describes how little is actually learned in the back of dark lecture halls. But when a good lecture is combined with a good text, the two should be synergistic or at least additive in imparting new knowledge. When used together, this text and its DVDs turn multiple learning wheels simultaneously.
This combination could be useful in a myriad of ways to those at many levels of the specialty of anesthesia. A student could spend a weekend with this work and come away quite knowledgeable about the inhalation agents and their uptake and distribution, complex subjects deeply intrinsic to anesthesiology. An experienced clinician could easily add to the scientific background behind his or her skills, update on the newer agents, and probably learn some new “tricks of the trade” useful in daily practice. What better teacher could one ask for than Dr. Ted Eger, who has always been one of the best speakers in our profession and who was involved with much of the research on these agents. Lastly, this text can even be useful as a reference text; the chapter on pharmacokinetics alone lists 229 references for further study. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of inhaled anesthetics to the practice of anesthesia, and the authors have provided a real service to the specialty by producing this excellent work.