And review books to boot!

Surgical Recall by Blackbourne

Surgical Recall
Your surgery rotation is right around the corner, and you’ve already started to imagine what it might be like..  The lack of sleep… the early mornings… the endless patients.. the long hours… Ok. Take a deep breath. Now let’s take a step back and calm down. Now ask yourself, how can I best prepare for my surgery rotation and do well in it?

Luckily there are books that will help you get through your surgery rotation. First of all, there is Surgical Recall by Blackbourne.  Every medical student who has completed their surgery rotation is quite familiar with this book. It has been consistently rated 5/5 stars on most student review sites.

Surgical Recall is a book specifically designed for third and fourth year students on their surgery rotation.  The book is organized into a question and answer format, and is set up for easy and fast access to pertinent information. If you like using flashcards to supplement your learning, Surgical Recall is for you. The text is supplemented by anatomy and procedural related images and diagrams. It even fits nicely in your white coat pocket.

How should you use Surgical Recall?  You should review it quickly before surgical rounds, and before you start an operation, ideally the day before.  If you review the pertinent sections, you will most likely be able to answer most questions from your attending and chief resident. You can also use it to study for the Surgery shelf, although additional books will be necessary to study for the surgery NBME  shelf exam. When you only have a few minutes to spare on your surgery rotation, this book is the one to have. On your surgery rotation, you might run out of time, and this might be the only book you rapidly read through.

What are the limitations of this book? Surgical Recall is not a textbook and therefore does not go in depth on any surgical concepts. It also doesn’t give you background information. If you are the type of learner that needs to learn in a step-wise fashion, you will definitely need another book to supplement this one.

Surgical Recall  is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, and has gone through several editions. For your surgery rotation, you can get by with older editions with no real problems.  

Here is a summary of the table of contents:
Section I
Overview and background
Surgical Notes
Common Abbreviations You Should Know
Glossary of Common Abbreviations You Should Know
Surgical Syndromes
Surgical Most Commons
Surgical Percentages
Surgical History
Surgical Instruments
Sutures and Stitching
Surgical Knot Tying
Procedures For The Surgical Ward
Surgical Positions
Surgical Speak
Preoperative 101
Surgical Operations you should know
Drains and Tubes
Surgical Anatomy Pearls
Fluids and Electrolytes
Blood and Blood Products
Surgical Hemostasis
Common Surgical Medications
Common Causes of Ward Emergencies
Surgical Respiratory Care
Surgical Nutrition
Surgical Infection
Surgical Prophylaxis
Surgical Rradiology
Surgical Ulcers
Surgical Oncology

Section II
Acute Abdomen and Referred Pain
Upper GI Bleeding
The Stomach
Bariatric Surgery
Small Intestines
The Appendix
Carcinoid Tumors
Colon and Rectum
The Anus
Lower GI Bleeding
Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
Portal Hypertension
Biliary Tract
The Breast
Thyroid Gland
Parathyroid Gland
Spleen and Splenectomy
Surgically Correctable HTN
Soft Tissue Sarcomas and Lymphomas
Skin Lesions
Surgical Intensive Care
Vascular Surgery

Section III
Plastic Surgery
Hand Surgery
Head and Neck Surgery
Thoracic Surgery
Cardiovascular Surgery
Transplant Surgery
Orthopedic Surgery
Other books to consider.
First Aid for Surgery
Surgery Secrets
Lawrence’s Essentials
NMS Surgery


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