Physician anesthesiologist at Stanford at Associated Anesthesiologists Medical Group
Richard Novak, MD is a Stanford physician board certified in anesthesiology and internal medicine.Dr. Novak is an Adjunct Clinical Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Stanford University, the Medical Director at Waverley Surgery Center in Palo Alto, California, and a member of the Associated Anesthesiologists Medical Group in Palo Alto, California.

Imagine if Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote a book called, “The Art of Jedi Practice.” In the anesthesia world that book is now available, and it’s called Practical Anesthetic Management—The Art of Anesthesiology,  authored by C. Philip Larson and Richard Jaffe. Drs. Larson and Jaffe are both professors who taught me in the Stanford University Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine.



Their book contains a series of chapters designed to teach the anesthesia professional how to perform our craft at a higher level. There are alternate textbooks, e.g. Miller’s Anesthesia, which contain an encyclopedic knowledge of our specialty, but the new Larson and Jaffe book will teach you how to improve and enhance your patient care. Between them, Larson and Jaffe have supervised tens of thousands of anesthetics in a university practice. Between them, Larson and Jaffe have taught hundreds of anesthesia residents the finer points of clinical care. Now, because of this book, readers can find on the printed page what the authors taught in the preoperative forum, in the operating room, and in the post-anesthesia recovery room.

The authors clearly state the philosophy of the book in the Preface: “As a result of the importance given to evidence-based anesthesia, practices based on experience or common sense are suspect and often denigrated. Further, some clinical practices do not lend themselves to scientific validation, as examples in this textbook will show. This is where the art of anesthesia plays an important role in maintaining the highest quality of anesthetic care. This book is not intended to be a comprehensive textbook of anesthesiology. Rather, we have selected key topics in the specialty where we believe the art of anesthesiology has generally been overlooked, misunderstood, or forgotten.”

Representative chapter titles include: Role of the Laryngeal Mask Airway in Airway Management, Essentials of Airway Management, Laryngospasm: the Silent Menace, Cricothyrotomy: A Lesson to Be Learned, Nitrous Oxide: Yea or Nay, Meperidine: A Forgotten Jewel, Sevoflurane: The Most Versatile Anesthetic Ever Developed, and The Bariatric Challenge.

Dr. Larson was the Chairman of Anesthesia at Stanford during the 1980’s, and the Editor-In-Chief of Anesthesiology, the world’s foremost anesthesia journal, during that same time period. He was my neuroanesthesia professor at Stanford. I was fortunate enough to spend hundreds of hours with him, learning the craft of anesthesia from a true legend. He loved to teach during the maintenance phase of a surgical case, and always utilized the Socratic method. He’d say, “The intake valve on your anesthesia machine is stuck in the open position. What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Then he’d stare at me while the gears churned in my head, as I searched and searched for the answer to a question I’d never considered. Dr. Larson also taught residents his hands-on method for awake intubation. He’d utilize this technique on all patients scheduled for lumbar disc surgeries: We’d sedate the patient, perform an awake oral fiberoptic intubation, and then have the patient roll themselves over into the prone position while awake, with the endotracheal tube already in their trachea! It was a remarkable technique, and representative of the pearls of wisdom present in this new textbook.

Dr. Jaffe is a Professor of Anesthesia at Stanford, and the lead author of Anesthesiologist’s Manual of Surgical Procedures. Next to Miller’s Anesthesia, the Anesthesiologist’s Manual of Surgical Procedures is the most essential textbook for any anesthesia trainee. At first glance, Jaffe’s first book appears to be a “cookbook” which gives recipes for nearly every anesthetic procedure, but it is much more. The textbook includes both the surgical and the anesthetic details for all common surgical procedures anesthesiologists will face.

Together, Drs. Larson and Jaffe own decades of anesthesia wisdom. The new compilation of their knowledge, Practical Anesthetic Management—The Art of Anesthesiology, is a must-have for the library of every anesthesia teaching program in the world, and is highly recommended for every resident, fellow, and practitioner of the art of anesthesia as well.

May the force, and the art, of anesthesia be with you.


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