Issam A. The use of the word Atlas in a geographical context is attributed to the accomplished Flemish cartographer and calligrapher Gerardus Mercador AD. In his treatise Cosmologia , he presented conceptual meditations upon the creation of the universe. Subsequent editions, after his death, became collections of regional maps; hence, the current use of the word since the middle of the 17th century. In pages, an index, and linked videos, Spetzler and colleagues present a modern collection of maps, helping navigate brainstem surgery.
The book Color Atlas of Brainstem Surgery includes 5 sections, dealing respectively with anatomy, safe entry zones, general tenets, approaches to specific brainstem and other related areas thalamus and pineal region , and surgical case examples. The video content is organized according to the different regions, with cogent case illustrations. As with the creators of atlases in times past, little information is truly novel or proprietary. Much has been published previously on the anatomic structures and safe entry zones, and there are diagrams inspired by Yasargil and others.
And there are numerous Rhotonesque images, tying vascular structures to the surgical anatomy. Yet the magic of this atlas lies in clarifying complex concepts, and in the redundancy of presentations of anatomic perspectives from different angles. This atlas made me reflect on the Spetzler genius, 3 decades after training with him as one of his first neurovascular fellows.
Spetzler's real contribution has always been to force the rest of us to acknowledge the feasibility of previously tabooed surgical tasks.
And here he does it most elegantly. Brainstem surgery is not for the faint hearted, and there is little in this atlas about the morbidity of cases series, or the wisdom and timing of operation. But if you want to embark on brainstem surgery, here you will find the best, clearest, and most comprehensive roadmaps. With the information herein, you will alter the patient position, reconsider the angle of approach, apply a number of precious pieces of advice, and definitely do a better job than you would have otherwise.
Or simply you would appreciate the awesomeness of the task, and decide to pass it on to more experienced hands…. Either way, surgeons and patients will be served well by this great book. The novice will learn basic tenets, and the more experienced surgeons will discover ways to improve their approach. Even after 3 decades of performing these same operations, this reviewer learned a few new tricks from my review of this atlas, which will help me with the next operation.
There is truly something for everyone here; hence, the great value of a reference work, destined to become a classic. He supports the heavens upon his shoulders, through the clarity of his teaching about the complexities of the surgical universe. The author has no personal, financial, or institutional interest in any of the drugs, materials, or devices described in this article.
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