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.

This column will help you find the top 10 anesthesia journals. Prior to the internet, hard copies of medical journals were bound into volumes and stored at hospital or medical school libraries. To find a specific article required a dive into the archives of the library, with the eventual reward of finding the specific article and then photocopying it to use for your pending lecture, paper, or patient care. In the internet age, all journals are catalogued in the virtual library of the search engine PubMed.  Once you find your desired article, the abstract or sometimes the full text article is available for you to read and/or copy into your personal computer.

With this virtual library model, it makes little sense for individual clinicians to subscribe to monthly journals. Your search for journal references is done via Google or PubMed. Which journals are accessed most often? Traditional academic rankings of journals rely on the “impact factor” of each journal.

Impact factor is defined as the “scientometric index which reflects the yearly mean number of citations of the articles published in the last two years in that journal.” One such impact factor ranking list is located here.  The impact factor/rate of citations is different from the number of clicks an article receives on internet searches. How many people actually read an article? There is currently no ranking system to quantitate the important metric of internet clicks, which would document the degree of interest readers have with a specific article or journal.

Clinical anesthesia providers such as myself want to read information which impacts patient care, rather than to read basic science studies such as this one:  Pholcodine exposure increases the risk of perioperative anaphylaxis to neuromuscular blocking agents: the ALPHO case-control study. Which journals/publications contain the most valuable clinical information? There are multiple fine journals in our specialty, but in my opinion the top 10 periodical anesthesia publications for clinical information follow below. Note that 2 of the top 4 publications did not even exist when I began my anesthesia training in 1984.


TEN: Journal of Clinical Anesthesia.  Per their website, this journal “addresses all aspects of anesthesia practice, including anesthetic administration, pharmacokinetics, preoperative and postoperative considerations, coexisting disease and other complicating factors, cost issues, and similar concerns anesthesiologists contend with daily. . . . JCA is affiliated with three societies that make it their official journal: the American Association of Clinical Directors (AACD); the Society for Airway Management (SAM); and the Orthopedic Anesthesia Pain Rehabilitation Society (OAPRS).” This publication launched in 1988. Comment: The Journal of Clinical Anesthesia is best known for presenting clinical data regarding relevant questions in the practice of anesthesiology.

NINE: European Journal of Anaesthesiology. Per their website, “The European Journal of Anaesthesiology is the official journal of the European Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care (ESAIC), and all members receive the journal as a benefit of membership.” This publication launched in 1983. Comment: As the flagship publication for the European Society, this journal is a reliable source of recent relevant anesthesia studies.

EIGHT: Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine.  Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine. Per their website, this journal is “the official publication of the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine(ASRA), a monthly scientific journal dedicated to mitigating the global burden of pain. Coverage includes all aspects of acute, perioperative, transitional, and chronic pain medicine. . . . this respected journal also serves as the official publication of the European Society of Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Therapy (ESRA), the Asian and Oceanic Society of Regional Anesthesia (AOSRA), the Latin American Society of Regional Anesthesia (LASRA), and the African Society for Regional Anesthesia (AFSRA).” This journal launched in 1976. Comment: The diagnosis and treatment of pain is the greatest frontier in the specialty of anesthesiology in the 21st century. Look to Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine as the leading journal in this vital subspecialty of anesthesiology.


SEVEN: Journal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia.  Per their website, this journal “is primarily aimed at anesthesiologists who deal with patients undergoing cardiac, thoracic or vascular surgical procedures. JCVA features a multidisciplinary approach, with contributions from cardiac, vascular and thoracic surgeons, cardiologists, and other related specialists.” This journal launched in 1987. Comment: The practices of cardiac, thoracic, and vascular anesthesia are the most demanding in our profession, and the Journal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia is the leader in reporting advances in these challenging subspecialties.

SIX: British Journal of Anaesthesia.  Per their website, this journal “publishes high-impact original work in all branches of anaesthesia, critical care medicine, pain medicine and perioperative medicine. . . . The journal is proudly affiliated with The Royal College of Anaesthetists, The College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland, and The Hong Kong College of Anaesthesiologists.” This publication launched in 1923. Comment: This British journal is the second longest running publication of the ten in this list, and is a very well-known and well-respected journal in our profession.

FIVE: Anaesthesia.  Per their website, this journal “is the official journal of the Association of Anaesthetists and is international in scope and comprehensive in coverage. It publishes original, peer-reviewed articles on all aspects of general and regional anaesthesia, intensive care and pain therapy.” This publication launched in 1930. Comment: This British journal is the third longest running publication of the ten in this list, and is a well-known and well-respected journal in our profession.

FOUR: The ASA Monitor.  Per their website, this is “the official news publication of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. The ASA Monitor delivers the latest specialty and industry news, and practice-changing clinical information to the perioperative health care community.” This publication launched in 2004. Comment: The ASA Monitor byline is “The Leading Source for Perioperative Health Care News.”  The ASA Monitor is essentially a monthly newspaper which reports on pertinent topics regarding anesthesiology in the United States. It’s delivered to all members of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.


THREE: The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) Newsletter.  Per their website, this publication’s  mission is “to improve the safety of patients during anesthesia care by: Identifying safety initiatives and creating recommendations to implement directly and with partner organizations, being a leading voice for anesthesia patient safety worldwide, and supporting and advancing anesthesia patient safety culture, knowledge, and learning. The APSF Vision Statement is ‘That no one shall be harmed by anesthesia care.’” This publication launched in 1986. Comment: The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation Newsletter is the Quality Improvement/Quality Assurance publication for our profession. The editors ferret out current problems in anesthesiology and provide solutions in an attempt to lessen or eliminate complications in the future. The APSF Newsletter should be required reading for all anesthesia professionals in order to best protect our patients.

TWO: ANESTHESIA & ANALGESIA.   Per their website, “ANESTHESIA & ANALGESIA is the ‘The Global Standard in Anesthesiology,’ and provides the practice-oriented, clinical research you need to keep current and provide optimal care to your patients. Each monthly issue brings you peer reviewed articles on the latest advances in drugs, preoperative preparation, patient monitoring, pain management, pathophysiology, and many other timely topics. . . . ANESTHESIA & ANALGESIA is the official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society and all members receive the journal as a benefit of membership.” This publication launched in 1922. Comment: A & A (as this journal is referred to in our profession) is an outstanding publication, second only to Anesthesiology.

ONE: ANESTHESIOLOGY. Per their website, “ANESTHESIOLOGY leads the world in publishing and disseminating the highest quality work to inform daily clinical practice and transform the practice of medicine in the specialty. . . . Founded in 1940, ANESTHESIOLOGY is the official journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists but operates with complete editorial autonomy, with an independent and internationally recognized Editorial Board.” Comment: Anesthesiology is the blueprint for what a 21st century journal should  be, mixing breakthrough science and clinical studies with the all-important American Society of Anesthesiologist standards, guidelines, and practice parameters which define our profession.

My advice? Be intellectually curious about all things related to anesthesiology. Use PubMed and Google to look up questions you want answered. You’ll be directed to many of the publications above, and you’ll be a smarter clinician as a result.

In addition:  There are dozens of anesthesia textbooks. I’ve ranked the Top 11 Anesthesia Textbooks in a previous column.




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