Textbook surgical education usually follows a predictable format involving fairly
in-depth descriptions of various pathologic conditions including etiology, pathophysiology,
symptomatology, diagnostic procedures, conservative management, and
surgical treatment. Although there is variation in the emphasis different books place
on each of these areas, the reader is obliged to absorb a plethora of information
and add it to his or her knowledge base by rote retention. Trying to assimilate large
amounts of clinically relevant information from these texts is confusing and difficult
for all of us who are not blessed with photographic memories.
In the MasterCases text Hand and Wrist Surgery, Kevin Plancher and his superb
authors are to congratulated for breaking the mold and providing an amazingly comprehensive
series of concise discussions of 90 different clinical conditions affecting the
hand and wrist. Each begins with a short history and clinical presentation of a clinical
case that will be used to guide the diagnostic and treatment sequence that will be used
to illustrate the management of a specific condition. The authors then proceed with
the physical examination, diagnostic studies, differential diagnoses, diagnosis, nonsurgical
management, and surgical treatment with clear, thorough and well illustrated
descriptions of the technique that they favor. Alternative treatment methods are included
as are post-operative management and possible complications. Helpful “pearls”
and “pitfalls” are included in the margin of each case. All case discussions are concise
and relevant without superfluous and confusing verbage.
The educational impact of this unique approach is considerable. With the clinical
case in mind, the reader can easily follow the ensuing sequence of diagnostic and treatment
considerations as if it were a patient under their own care. Unquestionably, the
overall appreciation of that particular condition and the cerebral retention of important
clinical information will be greater using this “user friendly” format. Dr. Plancher’s
simplified format makes the learning pleasurable and enhances one’s ability to study
many different conditions at one setting without confusing material between different
conditions as is so easily done in more conventional surgical books.
Kevin Plancher and his excellent complement of authors are to be congratulated
for providing a superb text that will serve as examination preparation equally well.