A sharp and entertaining attack on ""routine,"" runaway surgery--but not the book to turn to if you're facing a decision. Schneider--not surprisingly, a doctor of internal medicine--has a healthy skepticism toward surgery as a measure of last resort: in almost all cases (injury repair is one exception), medical treatment with drugs or a change in lifestyle is preferable. Rather than explain how to assess one's own case, however, he proceeds to debunk some of the most common surgical procedures: mastectomy, hysterectomy, prostate surgery, tubal ligation, vasectomy, Caesarean section, hernia repair, and so on. In each case, he scrutinizes the statistical record--also citing once-common procedures which are now obsolete either because of improved medical treatment or because (despite great popularity) they just did not work. (""Incredible as it may sound, until a few years ago serious surgeons vainly sprinkled talcum powder around the heart to improve circulation."") Finally, Schneider describes numerous disasters to demonstrate that no surgery should be considered routine. Among them: cardiac arrest, and death, during hysterectomy on a 35-year-old woman; overwhelming fatal infection following ulcer surgery on a middle-aged man. Alarmist, perhaps--but most hospital personnel can recall several such cases; and if they resulted from unnecessary surgery, Schneider has made his point. Doctors, nurses, drug companies, and the public all come under his fire (people want to be operated on); so, though he hyperbolizes and offers little concrete help (see rather The Prevention Guide to Surgery and Its Alternatives, by Rebecca Christian and others), he does focus arrestingly on a serious problem.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1982
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1982
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