Landmark Papers in Neurosurgery
Edited by Reuben D. Johnson & Alexander L. Green
Oxford University Press
Like so many good ideas, the principle behind the Landmark Papers series of books is almost effortlessly simple; go through the key papers that are relevant to current practice in a given field, summarising their study design and key findings.
Chapters group the papers into the usual neurosurgical sub-specialities: neurovascular, neuro-oncology, head injury, spinal, functional/epilepsy and paediatric neurosurgery and each chapter has been edited by one or more experts in the field, in addition to input from Johnson and Green. Each study is summarised in 2-5 A5 pages of text and tables which guide the reader through the study’s design outcomes (primary and secondary end points are clearly highlighted), results and conclusions.
It is important to recognise that Landmark Papers in Neurosurgery is more than a simple compilation summarising neurosurgery’s most-cited papers – the editors of each chapter have critiqued every paper and this is provided alongside the summary. Where contentious conclusions have been drawn from a study or evidence is inconclusive, other relevant evidence is incorporated into discussion, for example the debate over decompressive craniectomy in cases of malignant MCA infarction, where several key papers are discussed (DECIMAL, DESTINY, HAMLET etc.).
This book will never be (and indeed doesn’t claim to be) a replacement for reading important papers for oneself or for reviewing all of the available literature on a given subject before making decisions but what it does do very well is to give neurosurgeons the means to “Win… …without actually cheating” – that is to refresh one’s knowledge of the key evidence before a journal club, grand round or examination quickly and efficiently.
Criticisms? There is always the potential for including more papers with a publication such as this but the line had to be drawn somewhere and the vast majority of important papers feature. Evidence will move on; new landmark papers are perennially being written and published but hopefully there will be updated editions of the publication available to reflect these in due course.
Ian Anderson, October 2012