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An entirely different spectrum of illnesses present themselves in the abdominal surgical diseases, both acquired and congenital, that occur in children as opposed to those which occur in adults The special psychological and nutritional requirements of growing children, as well as the different responses to trauma during childhood, are recognized by surgeons, neonatologists and pediatric intensivists who must care for children on a daily basis
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In the 1920s, there were only three surgeons in North America whose practices were limited to children. One of them, Dr. William E. Ladd, organized a training program in pediatric surgery at the Boston Children's Hospital in the 1930s. His superb clinical, teaching, and investigative skills, combined with his legendary personal attributes, stimulated many young surgeons to train with him in this exciting new specialty. They, in turn, organized their own training programs at other medical centers throughout the country. The subsequent growth of this highly academic specialty has been spectacular. The original North American textbook on pediatric surgery, Abdominal Surgery of Infancy and Childhood (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders) by Ladd and Gross, published in 1941, had 455 pages and stood alone as the authoritative reference on pediatric surgery. Twelve years later, Gross published an updated and expanded book, The Surgery of Infancy and Childhood (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders). It contained 1000 pages and included discussions of thoracic, cardiovascular, gynecologic, and urologic as well as alimentary tract surgery. The ensuing years have witnessed the publication of additional excellent textbooks, atlases, and national journals devoted exclusively to pediatric surgery or one of the many pediatric surgical subspecialties.
Presented as a sequel to the original textbook, this new Abdominal Surgery of Infancy and Childhood is a two-volume, 1400-page, well-illustrated, comprehensive reference book. The senior editor was the sole author or a coauthor of 33 of the 72 chapters. This ensured a uniform writing style and also reflects Donnellan's extensive clinical experience. For each subject, alternative treatment methods are discussed with appropriate illustrations, but the author also indicates his preference. Numerous references appear at the end of each chapter.
The scope of this work includes virtually every condition of the alimentary tract, including esophageal abnormalities, that the general pediatric surgeon will encounter. In addition, an introductory section, entitled "General Management Conditions," includes excellent chapters entitled "Transport of the Sick Child," "Vascular Access," "Parenteral Alimentation" (which covers fluid and electrolyte management), "Choice of Incisions," "Endoscopy," and a concise, informative, and timely 27-page chapter called "Laparoscopic Pediatric Surgery." Six chapters dealing with the more common solid malignant tumors of children are excellent reference materials contributed by well-known authorities. The book does not include urologic, gynecologic, or thoracic conditions other than those involving the esophagus.
Basic general surgical principles are closely adhered to throughout the work, with specific treatment methods modified to accommodate the unique physiology and pathophysiology of the pediatric patient. The writing in general is clear and concise and easily understood. I found the book to be interesting, informative, and easy to read, because the material was well presented and because I found myself in general agreement with its contents.
Reviewed by Lester W. Martin, M.D.
Copyright © 1998 Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved. The New England Journal of Medicine is a registered trademark of the MMS.
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