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Sarrafian's Anatomy of the Foot and Ankle: Descriptive, Topographic, Functional (3rd ed)

A. S. Kelikian, S. Sarrafian (eds) pp. 736 Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2011 ISBN: 978-0781797504

This is the third edition of a well-known text, and an initial look through the 700-odd pages of text prompted the question: who would buy this book? A little unkind perhaps, but from a surgeon’s point of view there is plenty of competition in other Foot and Ankle texts which also cover this topic. In addition many textbooks are available online, and Sarrafian’s anatomy of the foot and ankle is not.

The book is laid out in a conventional format and logically follows a format of studying the embryology of the foot before moving onto topics such as osteology, myology, etc. This all sounds somewhat dry but the text is well written and it is superbly illustrated. Original research is drawn from a variety of sources and languages which is immensely helpful together with the authors’ own dissections. The latter adds a credibility to the book and allows the authors to offer insights into all sorts of areas the reader hadn’t thought of.

If I were to pick out two must read chapters it would be ‘Syndesmology’ and ‘The Functional Anatomy of the Foot’. The latter is so good it should be required reading for any trainees taking the FRCSOrth exit examination.

So coming back to my question – who is this for, this tome of 700 pages? I went back to the Preface which is pervaded with the dedication and passion the authors have for their subject. It also states where this book has pitched itself. For an individual trainee unless they have decided that foot and ankle is for them, it is not worth it. However any individual who is committed to foot and ankle practice; not just the surgeon but radiologist and anaesthetist alike, should consider this text. Any department that has a dedicated foot and ankle service should have this book on its shelf.

Is there room for improvement? Of course! As I mentioned many texts have now gone online which allows easier access without physically carrying a book around. In addition it allows us to use the excellent illustrations for teaching more easily and also allows the use of video which can be even a more powerful tool than a static picture.

As a surgeon I would like to see a little more about our incisions and approaches, there is discussion on angiosomes and nerve supply but only guidance in the text on ankle arthroscopy approaches. That I suppose is for the authors to decide, but if there is a fourth edition they may be forced to shrink the demographic of their readership and focus on the surgeon’s needs?

The field of surgery is changing rapidly with the advent of minimally invasive techniques but the anatomy of the foot is unchanging. To paraphrase the late George Bonney, the surgeon should ‘be able to operate on the skin of the foot and its contents’. This book is a solid contribution to that aim.

S. Bendall

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