Sam. W Wiesel. pp.6068 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1451193145
This is the second edition of the anchor title in the series of operative techniques books chief-edited by Prof Sam Wiesel of Georgetown University, Washington DC. This ‘Orthopaedic Surgery’ book runs to over 6,000 pages in four volumes, and is a huge effort, but the scope of the entire series is breathtaking, with nine additional titles from foot & ankle through spine and sports medicine to orthopaedic surgical oncology.
With over 800 authors and 13,000 illustrations, readers and reviewers are almost overwhelmed, but those chapters which we were able to appraise with a degree of professional expertise are good. A standardised chapter format makes keeps the chapter authors safely corralled, and helps the readers with quicker appreciation.
For example, the spine section provides a comprehensive text and references on spine surgery, written largely by experts. It covers conventional spinal procedures and also new and advanced techniques, such as minimally invasive techniques and corrective spinal surgeries.
Each chapter provides the technical steps involved in each operation in a step-by-step manner. Sections on technical tips and pearls and pitfalls of each particular operation are very helpful.
In a book of this size, the challenge is almost of access to, rather than quality of, content, and thus it is relevant to appraise the electronic versions.
The free ebook is provided by Inkling, which provides numerous electronic titles, and is a good simulacrum of a paper book, with a share of pleasure and pain, though the pleasures and pains are not exactly the same on the screen as on paper.
The ebook downloads quickly and painlessly to a computer, and works as advertised, with easy searching and fairly intuitive navigation, though jumping to the iOS or Android app is slightly disconcerting as a demand is made for a login password which was never provided, producing a situation reminiscent of Tom Cruise’ predicament in ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ (however, in this case, the solution is a simple email). Those expecting a forest of hyperlinks will be disappointed, this is an electronic facsimile of a paper book, not a fully featured website.
On the app, the content of the entire book is about 1GB, so there is the option to download the entirety, or just individual chapters. I can’t imagine anyone attempting to read 6,000 A4 pages on a mobile phone, but one can’t fault the portability – I wish I had had this when I was a resident waiting for the operation room in the small hours.
The electronic content is improved on the – lauded and criticised – first edition.
The alternative to this is Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics, now in its 12th edition, published 2012. Price, size and the majority of electronic features are similar, though Campbell’s has some video. They are both strong.
For the surgeon and patient, competition between operative technique bibles should be more creative than competition between the great monotheistic religions, and, with any luck, equally long-lasting. I look forward to the next editions of both.