Vaccaro AR, Albert TJ, eds. Spine Surgery: Tricks of the Trade. 3rd ed. Thieme; 2016; 462 pp; 400 ill; $199.99
Summarizing and organizing all aspects of spine surgery is a daunting and arduous task. The spinal column can provide a variety of pathology to the surgeon while offering particular vulnerability in the trauma setting, necessitating urgent or emergent attention. This text is authored by 2 of the most reputable spine surgeons in the world, which offers the reader some confidence as they navigate through the chapters. The other contributors are also recognized as experts in the subject category they are describing.
The text consists of 21 distinct sections providing organization and appropriate categorization of all aspects of spine surgery. Within these 21 sections, 112 chapters highlight the finer details of each topic and procedure. The chapters are each very easy to read and understand, no matter the level of one’s training or discipline. These chapters are all structured with a similar foundation and schematic so that the readers of this text can anticipate the areas of focus from page to page. Uniformly, each of the 112 chapters includes a description of the procedure discussed, indications/contraindications, and special considerations. Each also highlights key procedural steps and shares the experiences of other surgeons to help avoid pitfalls and ensure technical completion of the surgical objective.
As an owner of both the second and third editions, I can personally attest to the quality improvements of this resource. Color illustrations, charts, and photographs are featured in every chapter, as opposed to only black and white pictures in the previous edition. Moreover, this edition provides online access to a multitude of videos that demonstrate the technical aspects of these operations, which were filmed in the operating room or on cadavers. Furthermore, the scope of this text has expanded to include new procedures and updates to operations that were included in prior editions. References are absent; like other editions, this book contains only a collection of expert opinions to craft the chapters.
For the neuroradiology audience, I believe this resource would not be useful to have in one’s collection. The techniques are described more from a surgeon’s perspective and tailored to that audience. Although any reader would benefit from the information and illustrations provided, the text likely does not highlight elements that are characteristic to a neuroradiologist’s clinical practice and does not allow for correlation between procedure steps and diagnostic imaging. Orthopedic spine and neurosurgery spine surgeons comprise the ideal subset of medical professionals targeted by this publication.
In conclusion, Spine Surgery: Tricks of the Trade is a very brief and easy read; yet it is also a comprehensive outline of all aspects of spine surgery. Each chapter delivers predictable information based on a blueprint that was developed in earlier editions.