Genius on the Edge – The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted (Day -255)

Genius on the Edge – The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted

After reading the biography of Dr Harvey Cushing I was very excited to start reading this book as Dr Halsted is where modern surgery comes from.

The size of the book is relatively thick, however there is a large font used throughout with a relatively large text spacing make it easy reading. Unfortunately this is one of the only positives about this book.

The author jumps backwards and forwards through time almost randomly. It is a constant struggle to know just what stage of Dr Halsted’s life is being discussed, and there is no logical order to the flow.

This is compounded by the inclusion of many other people within the book – I would guess that if you removed all this stuff about other people the book would be half its size. This disappointed me as I wanted to learn about Dr Halsted – and instead of this found very little about him here. I am not sure whether this is because there is so little known about him, however with the way the author kept jump to random other people it felt like they were just trying to make their word count. Often I had to search backwards and forwards just to find out where in time I was supposed to be.

I guess that something I really liked about the Harvey Cushing biography was the inclusion of historic documents including letters and medical reports. These are not included in much detail within this book on Dr Halsted.

All in all, I would not recommend this book for someone wanting to learn more about the contribution of Dr Halsted to surgery. I will be continuing on my search to find out more about this great man.

Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery Book Review

Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery Book Review

As a vet student learning surgery is one of the biggest challenges that lies ahead, and is something that is exciting, yet bears a weight of great responsibility. Most of the surgery textbooks that I have seen are either very specific, or are absolutely massive so I was slightly surprised at the size (and weight) of this book. Flicking through quickly it is possible to see that for the size it has a lot of good solid information without the “fluff” that some books add starting with principles and techniques of aseptic technique, instrument use, and suturing. The book then moves on to discuss the different organ systems, and soft tissue surgical procedures that are used with these.

What I especially love is that the basics are covered in a high level of detail, with the different approaches to the same task considered and contrasted. For example looking at haemostasis the options of direct pressure, crushing haemostasis, ligation, vessel clips, vasoconstriction, diathermy (monopolar and bipolar), topical haemostatic agents are all considered before finishing with a discussion of the complications of bleeding disorders. The two chapters on suturing cover the different materials, and then the different patterns that are used with step by step photographs of each pattern. Pain management, post-operative nutrition, wound management and reconstruction with amputation is covered with an entire chapter on oncological surgery and skin tumours.

When looking at abdominal surgery it starts with a chapter on the principles of abdominal surgery looking at the different approaches, prevention of adhesions, exploring the abdomen and limiting complications. The rest of the section covers the procedures for separate organ systems within the abdomen with each chapter covering the principles behind the system, before going into the clinical indications, diagnostic imaging and different techniques for each procedure. Off note here is the chapter on gastrointestinal surgery which covers the different approaches for diagnosis, special principles and techniques including suture patterns and performing a leak test. The chapter then looks at gastric obstruction and GDV covering from initial stabilisation through to selecting a site for gastropexy. One of my favourite (and as a student most useful) chapters is the one of peritonitis management and the acute management which covers the stabilisation, oxygen & fluid therapy, right through investigation, imaging, diagnosis and treatment.

I’ve already had the pleasure of seeing some small animal surgical clinics here, and this book with its concise indications for, differentials and description of the procedure has been a golden resource for me to quickly get up to speed on the procedures being performed. This is especially useful as I am studying in Slovakia and my understanding of the language still needs improving so prevents me getting completely lost.

One of the first things that got me was that the images are not in colour and are instead printed in high contrast black and white. To be honest I personally like this as I find that they have a higher contrast between tissues which makes them easier to see as colour images rarely match up to what you see in surgery with the difference in lighting and perfusion etc.

For a vet student starting surgery this is a book I would thoroughly recommend, it has the answers to all the “stupid questions”, as well as covering the basic skills that once mastered will make you a better surgeon. I for one will be keeping this book on hand throughout the next 3 years of my training!

This is a book I’d recommend to go into any veterinary collection for a quick reference of the different surgical options available for a client, or as a cheat guide to avoiding the common pitfalls of different procedures.