Senior Editors Greg McLatchie and Neil Borley
Published by Oxford University Press (Published March 2022)
I was chatting to a consultant colleague recently and we talked about useful medical textbooks and I was pleasantly surprised when he said that the Oxford Handbooks series are brilliant. I must admit, I agree with him and these excellent handbooks are so useful to a wide audience including medical students, junior doctors and experienced senior doctors such as GPs and consultants. It is impressive in it’s own right that such a series of books can appeal to such a diverse audience.
Clinical Surgery is a wide and large topic and although this new edition is a handbook and it is the same height as other siblings in the series with the traditional vinyl cover, it is chunkier than most. It runs to an impressive 1021 pages and that is understandable as the topic is large and the readership as I have indicated is quite wide. As would be expected carrying the title “Oxford Handbook” is often a good guide to suggest a quality book. Indeed, this book is excellent and lives up to the high-quality bar set by other Oxford Handbooks in the series.
Looking at the contents page, a reader can see a wide range of surgical specialities covered including urology, paediatric surgery, orthopaedics and peripheral vascular disease just to name a few sub specialities. Chapter 26 on page 961 is an excellent review of emergency surgery and an ideal companion for the junior doctor on call covering acute admissions for surgery. Of course it can also help in ward work as well as in a primary care setting.
In fact, it is impressive what is packed into this handbook, it is an excellent and substantial textbook of surgery packed into the dimensions of a handbook. It is a win win situation for all users.
As would be expected from a mature member (This particular handbook’s first edition was published in 1990), of the Oxford Handbook series, this is a practical hands-on book, to assist a working doctor in their everyday activities in clinical surgery. However, this book (like almost every other in the series) can have a wide readership. As well as junior hospital doctors, GPs would find this book helpful, as well as clinical nurse specialists working in the surgical field as well as established consultants wanting to refresh their knowledge, especially outside their specialist area. I would also imagine this is an excellent book for medical students. It is not easy writing a handbook on a broad topic such as clinical surgery for such a potentially wide audience but the editors and contributors have pulled it off.
For common and some not so common scenarios, this handbook was surprisingly (maybe I should not be that surprised considering the pedigree of this book) detailed and helpful. Take for example the 2 page section, page 228 to page 229 on soft tissue and bone infections. It covered a lot of topics including good content on cellulitis (every word counts and no excess baggage here), definitions of the different types of soft infections (very useful) and signposts to other parts of the book of relevant conditions, such as the diabetic foot. I could go on and on but there is a lot of very useful information here. Crucially, it is all highly relevant to clinical practice but with less common conditions thrown in. Even better, it is highly readable and ideal to dip into a small section and quickly read up on a subject.
Although a bulky handbook, it is reasonably portable and so can be carried around relatively easily. It is a shame though that online access to the contents of the book is not bundled with the purchase price. In saying that, the price alone of the paper book is very keenly priced, and very good value for money. In fact, I would go further and say excellent value for money! A quality book at a very keen price, what is not to like!
Dr Harry Brown 25th