The 4th Edition of Handbook of Fractures by Egol, Koval, and Zuckerman, is a must-have for interested medical students and orthopaedics residents everywhere. It contains the essentials for an orthopaedic rotation and will give you a great foothold on the foundation of the specialty. Note that it is not an all-knowing book of knowledge, despite being a “go-to guide” for the fundamentals. It is a very condense text of fractures, dislocations, and stabilization techniques for upper and lower extremities, pediatric cases, axial fractures and dislocations, and also general considerations for the important categories of gunshot, pathologic, and multiple trauma cases, just to name a few.
This handbook is divided into 5 major divisions with chapters under each division: I. General Considerations (7 chapters including: GSW, closed reduction/casting/traction, periprosthetic fractures, orthopaedic analgesia), II. Axial Skeleton Fractures (3 chapters including: general spine, cervical spine, thoracolumbar spine), III. Upper Extremity Fractures & Dislocations (14 chapters including: scapula fractures, distal radius fractures, hand fractures), IV. Lower Extremity Fractures & Dislocations (17 chapters including: acetabulum, femoral shaft, patella, calcaneus, talus), and V. Pediatric Fractures & Dislocation (11 chapters including: shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, ankle, and many more).
Egol’s Handbook of Fractures has a lot of text, but is easy to read because important words are bolded and there are quite a good set of illustrations that go along with essential concepts. Most chapters are subdivided, very logical, touch on epidemiology, anatomy, mechanism of injury, clinical evaluation, radiographic evaluation, classifications of fracture/dislocation, treatment, nonoperative vs operative cases, complications, and rehabilitation.
The primary target audience of the Handbook of Fractures is orthopaedic residents. It covers a wide range of important and must-know concepts needed to succeed in orthopaedic residency. The ambitious MS3 who wants to end up on top in an orthopaedic elective clerkship may also find this book enlightening and useful for impressing some attendings and residents (don’t show off too much though, jealousy must be kept at bay!).
This book is certainly not recommended for medical school courses in general, as time spent reading it would be low yield for general surgery rotations. This book is also pretty much useless for the USMLE exams because orthopaedic fractures, dislocations, and other material presented in this book are just not the materials you’ll see on the boards. If you want to use it to get ready for an elective in orthopaedic clerkship or plan to go into orthopaedic residency, then go right on ahead and invest in one. Otherwise, it is recommended that you skim a library copy as needed.