Multi-authored, edited by Eric Monnet DVM, PhD, FAHA, DACVS, DECVS
Published by Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, hardcover, 872 pages, Price US $179.99, ISBN: 978-0-8138-0782-9
As the description on the back cover of the book states, Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery is a comprehensive, in–depth resource for well–referenced, current information on small animal soft tissue surgery. The textbook is edited by Eric Monnet who is well-respected in the field of veterinary small animal soft tissue surgery. Divided into chapters by body system, each section begins with a brief review of the relevant anatomy and physiology, with pathophysiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis described in detail. In the Preface Dr Monnet states that the book has four goals.
First, that it should be based as much as possible on evidence. In this respect, admittedly with a few exceptions, I believe that the book fulfils its remit admirably. Chapter authors have clearly been selected with care and most can be recognised for their recent contributions to their subject area. In general, each chapter contains a thorough review of the literature and a full reference list is provided at the end of each chapter. The addition of printed reference lists, rather than the current fad of providing these electronically, pleased me no end.
Second, that because the book was strictly focussed on soft tissue surgery it had no requirement for general chapters covering subjects such as surgical biology, anaesthesia and pain management. I support the Editor in his decision on this point and agree that these subjects belong in less specific and more basic surgical textbooks of which a number are currently available to the interested individual. In addition, it was decided not to include chapters on wound management or neurosurgery since this information is also available in other textbooks. I am less convinced by this decision, especially with regards to the subject of wound management. I do accept, however, that to include an in-depth and well-referenced chapter covering this aspect of soft tissue surgery would have added considerable page numbers to what is already quite a tome.
Third, that the textbook should provide good documentation and illustrations. To this end, the services and skills of Dennis Giddings were enlisted for many of the illustrations used in the book. Mr Giddings’ outstanding artistic work will be familiar to those who own or have read a copy of An Atlas of Surgical Approaches to the Bones and Joints of the Dog and Cat, edited by Piermattei and Johnson. Dr Monnet should be applauded for his decision to use new, good quality illustrations; the book contains approximately 180 of Mr Giddings’ greyscale illustrations, and is the richer and the clearer for it. Undoubtedly, his illustrations set this book apart from others in its class.
Lastly, that the textbook be intended for a wide audience, from private practitioners to specialists including residents studying for board examinations. There can be few who could argue that an evidence–based reference textbook entirely focusing on the subject of small animal soft tissue surgery would not be essential reading for the specialist surgeon and the resident studying for their qualifications. Indeed, I would fully expect this textbook to become part of the expected reading list for all surgical residents planning to sit their European board examinations. The role of the book in the busy first opinion practice is less clear; it is not a ‘how to do’ textbook. On the contrary, anyone with even a little interest in the subject will find the book easy to read and extremely informative.
In addition to the printed text, the book includes a DVD with video clips and slideshows demonstrating a number of the soft tissue procedures. The Editor confirms that this is a work in progress and will be expanded in future editions. I suspect the videos clips provided will receive both praise and criticism by equal measure. There is little doubt that surgery is best taught by watching and, as such, many will be immediately drawn to the DVD. For those with prior experience of the procedures shown, the clips may provide a useful tool of reassurance and confirmation that most, if not all, procedures can be performed in a number different ways and that the way that is shown is not the way that they ‘would do the surgery’. Of some concern, for the inexperienced surgeon, the DVD might mislead an individual into thinking that a procedure was more straightforward than it actually is and that it can only be performed in the way shown. I believe the surgical clips on the DVD should, therefore, be watched with care and that they are definitely not an ideal way for a budding surgeon to learn ‘how to do’ a operation that is new to him or her.
Despite these criticisms, I believe Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery is a most welcome addition to the literature. It is well-written, well-edited, easy to read and navigate, informative, in depth and, mostly, comprehensive. Although as a soft tissue surgeon my opinion may well be biased, I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and re-reading the book for the purpose of writing this review; I commend the book with only small reservations.
Robert N White
BSc (Hons) BVetMed CertVA DSAS (Soft Tissue) DipECVS MRCVS