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Ahmad A Hai The Association of Surgeons of India Textbook of Surgery 2003 Tata McGraw Hill Publishing Company Limited New Delhi ISBN 0-07-462149-1. Price Rs. 1500/
Fifty five years after independence, the first authentic “Indian” Textbook of Surgery has finally arrived. The miracle is not that this took so long, but that it actually saw the light of the day, given the large number of surgeons and diverse opinions in our country. The fact that it has been published under the aegis of Association of Surgeons of India lends certain credibility to this publication. The handsomely produced book contains 1444 pages, is well illustrated with over 1500 figures and photographs, many of them in colour. Over 140 eminent surgeons have contributed chapters/topics, including a couple from the Armed Forces.
The book contains several innovative chapters like intensive surgical care, surgeon and the IT, genetics and the surgeon, ethics in surgery and newer imaging techniques. Since the book is intended primarily for the Indian subcontinent, tropical diseases have been dealt with in detail in a separate chapter, as is rural surgery. Principles of operative surgery are detailed in a separate chapter (Chapter 9), along with theatre discipline, sterilization and sutures and needles – important topics for a surgeon in training but not available in standard (western) surgical textbooks. Similarly, principles of anaesthesiology are dealt with in some detail in an independent chapter (Chapter 7) which is peppered with some excellent quotes and proverbs. Keeping with its theme, the chapter on newer investigative and imaging techniques (Chapter 5) is supported profusely with some excellent photographs.
The book is well written with easy to understand English. Chapters are written in divergent styles, but this was expected given the large number of contributors; this helps to break the monotony of the book. Individual topics are covered fairly comprehensively with adequate emphasis on important points. They are ably supported by tables, charts, line diagrams/flow charts and photographs. Diseases commonly occurring in this country as well as topics of practical importance like enterocutaneous fistulae (Chapter 17), upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage and surgery for morbid obesity (Chapter 16), and carcinoma of gall bladder and bile ducts (Chapter 22) have also been addressed.
However some minor shortcomings are evident: conceptual, typographical as well as factual. The chapter on Trauma (25) is sandwiched between regional chapters – it would have been much better to have it at the beginning, near the chapter on intensive care. A chapter has been titled ‘Endocrines’ which is semantically incorrect; it should have been appropriately titled “Endocrine Surgery”. Lymphoedema, a common problem has been dealt with rather perfunctorily in less than a page (p 702). Amputations, operations commonly performed by surgeons have not been dealt with at all. There is a fair amount of repetition between Chapter 6 (Surgical Infections), Chapter 3 (Tropical Diseases) and Chapter 18 (especially Typhoid and Amoebiasis); this could have been avoided with tighter editorial control. The classification of choledochal cysts, an uncommon condition has been repeated twice (p 528 & 565). Typographical errors include the figure on wound healing (Fig 4.1, p 42) which is inverted; the table on page 245 (Types of Grafts) which has several grammatical errors; and page 541 where the TIPSS (transjugular intrahepatic porta systemic shunting) procedure is referred to as “Tip's” procedure. Other minor faults include: Breslow's classification not mentioned in malignant melanoma (p 285); a paragraph on ‘malignant hydatid disease’ could have been added in Chapter 18. Finally a misleading impression is created in Chapter 24 (p 638) that Keel/Cattell's repair is the standard treatment for incisional hernia; that a mesh can be placed in an “anatomical repair” or in Catell's repair (Fig 24.33b), or that a mesh cannot be placed intraperitoneally.
Not-withstanding the trivialities pointed out in the previous paragraph this is an excellent surgical treatise which every Indian surgeon can be proud of. Strongly recommended for medical libraries in the country as well as a personal copy for all undergraduate students, residents in surgical training and young surgeons.