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It’s All in Your Head

By Richard C. Trevino, II, MD

What book should I read? Twenty-four years ago, this was the question that I asked Robert Beckenbaugh. Without hesitation, the answer was Green’s. Today, with the ever-increasing knowledge base, research, and writer educators, the question has changed to which books should I read. I have in my own personal library over 250 orthopaedic (fractures, shoulder, elbow, spine, pediatric, etc.), plastic, hand, nerve, tendon, anatomy, physiology, basic science, and radiology text books. I have read maybe a quarter of these cover to cover. The rest are used as references and the chapters have excellent references at the end for further study. As I have matured, I find myself less reliant on books and more on journal articles as they have more influence on my clinical practice. Nevertheless, many of these texts are important for review. 

There are many “review” textbooks, but many that I have come across are focused. If I want to read about nerves, I can choose one of two excellent ASSH textbooks: Upper Extremity Nerve Repair – Tips and Techniques: A Master Skills Publication or the newer ASSH Surgical Anatomy: Nerve Reconstruction. There are also many others such as Birch’s Peripheral Nerve Injuries: A Clinical Guide, and Companion to Peripheral Neuropathy: Illustrated Cases and New Developments by Dyck. There is also Mackinnon’s Nerve Surgery book, which I have very much enjoyed, and for the hardcore nerve researcher, Brushart’s Nerve Repair (which I keep struggling through).

For the highly focused, there are several scaphoid books. Timothy Herbert’s The Fractured Scaphoid, printed in 1990; it is an amazing feat, devoting an entire book to one small carpal bone. Since then, other excellent scaphoid books have emerged: Slutsky and Slade III’s The Scaphoid, Buijze & Jupiter’s Scaphoid Fractures, and Yao’s Scaphoid Fractures and Nonunions: A Clinical Casebook. I particularly like the case presentation format of Yao’s book. These are just a few of the many focused textbooks from the shoulder to the hand.

 For review, I still enjoy Green’s, which I use as a reference. The ASSH has the Textbook of Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery, which I also use as a reference and it is very well written. The Principles of Hand Surgery and Therapy is what I use for our residents and fellows. The ASSH Hand Surgery Update is a text that I make a point to read cover to cover and is an excellent review.

What book should every hand surgeon read? Should the book be focused or should it be a review? The book that I keep coming back to is Surgical Anatomy of the Hand & Upper Extremity by Doyle and Botte. Knowledge of anatomy is the foundation of almost everything that we do. This would have been the book to read, but unfortunately it is out of print. It is hard for me to recommend a textbook that has only one available copy on Amazon for $5,202. Even Atlas of Hand Anatomy and Clinical Implications by Yu, Chase, and Strauch lists for $750; that’s almost three carpal tunnel surgeries reimbursement.

All of these texts help us understand the massive complexity of the upper extremity and how to treat its various disorders. The complexity of the upper extremity, however, pales to the complexity of the CNS. Given the higher complexity of the CNS, it would seem more prone to dysfunction than the upper extremity.  Most of us have witnessed a perfectly good upper extremity wasted by an injured CNS and conversely an injured upper extremity functioning well inexplicably, presumably due to better coping skills. One such book that has given me much food for thought is It’s All in Your Head by Suzanne O’Sullivan. Dr. O’Sullivan is a neurologist and the book is a series of clinical cases separating somatic disorders from psychiatric disorders. This is the book that I recommend to every hand surgeon. It is very easy to read and can be read in a day. The book has benefited me with a better understanding of some of the causes of upper extremity dysfunction and of when not to operate.

I am old school and which book should I read is still relevant to me. The question for the newest generation is which PDF should I read.

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