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Book Review - The Essentials: Congenital Heart Surgery

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Essentials: Congenital Heart Surgery
Authors, Umar S. Boston, MD and Gautum Singh, MD
Illustrations, Steven P. Goldberg
Video Editor, Rachel L. Simon-Lee
Editor, Edward M. Bender, MD
CVOffice, LLC 2016
206 pages. $19.99.

Congenital cardiac surgery is an intimidating field to new learners. The field is rife with abbreviations and eponyms, making it challenging to gain a foothold in what is really a separate realm from acquired cardiac surgery. While there are many iconic textbooks in the field, an accessible introductory text has been sorely lacking. This innovative new e-book fills that significant void.

Similar to other textbooks in congenital cardiac surgery, this book is arranged largely by lesion. There are additional chapters on cardiopulmonary bypass, palliative operations, and heart failure. Each chapter is cleanly subdivided into sections, including presentation and diagnosis, preoperative management, surgical technique, and postoperative concerns. In appropriate sections, such as aortic coarctation, there is additional information on adult presentations of the lesion. Each chapter covers the most pertinent information on the topic lesion. For instance, the chapter on truncus arteriosus nicely covers both the Collett and Edwards and the Van Praagh classification systems, as well as DiGeorge syndrome and potential perioperative issues with hypocalcemia. The chapter on hypoplastic left heart syndrome discusses the advantages and disadvantages of a Norwood-Sano versus a Norwood-BT operation, and balancing pulmonary and systemic flow. The detail provided is pertinent without being overwhelming, focusing on overarching principles rather than finer points such as medication dosages.

As the book was written by only two authors, the style of presentation and depth of material is consistent throughout the chapters, which helps to keep readability high. Additionally, after many years of clunky e-adaptations of printed surgical textbooks, it is refreshing to come across a purpose built e-book. Rather than futzing through awkwardly paginated text or poorly scaled images, the book is put together seamlessly. Echocardigrams are well integrated into the text and play without issue. The surgical videos are very nicely shot and edited, with appropriate pauses and chyrons to highlight key components of the anatomy and surgical procedure. The illustrations are all high resolution, with helpful captions and annotations on the images as appropriate. Conveniently, when the reader clicks on a reference, the reference hovers over the page rather than bringing you to the end of the chapter. The authors have also taken specific advantage of the e-book format, adding an easily accessible glossary that has links back to the related chapter built into each definition. There are also study cards for each chapter that allow the reader to quickly review key terms and do a self-assessment.

This e-book would be an excellent resource for residents, midlevel practitioners, and perhaps very highly motivated medical students. The surgical aspects and videos would be helpful for trainees in pediatric cardiology as well. It would be a very handy resource to have at ready access while on clinical service or even preparing for exams, as there are answers to all the most common questions that get asked on rounds and exams. This book would be an excellent rosetta stone for anyone trying to make their way through their first experience in congenital cardiac surgery.

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