As described on the back cover, Medical Instruments and Devices: Principles and Practices “originates from the medical instruments and devices section of The Biomedical Engineering Handbook, Fourth Edition,” a four-volume work published in 2015. The editors are all eminent writers, teachers, and practitioners in the field of biomedical engineering. Bronzino was active in the early days of clinical engineering and established one of the pioneering education programs in that profession.

The book is attractive to clinical engineering and healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals because of its focus on medical devices, leaving aside many of the broader and more theoretical topics addressed in The Biomedical Engineering Handbook. Adding to its appeal is the fact that it costs roughly one-third of the handbook's price, making it more affordable for readers not requiring coverage of the entire spectrum of biomedical engineering.

Medical Instruments and Devices: Principles and Practices

Editors: Steven Schreiner, Joseph D. Bronzino, and Donald R. Peterson

Publisher: CRC Press, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4398-7145-4

List price: $99.95

Pages: 320

According to the Introduction, the book “provides information on a range of instruments and devices that span not only a range of physiological systems but also span the physiological scale: from molecule to cell to organ to organ system.” Given this aim, the book may be particularly valuable to biomedical engineering students who need to understand topics across the wide breadth of physiological measurement. It would also be valuable to biomedical engineering practitioners who need basic reference material within a single book and extensive lists of references for further study.

On the other hand, the set of topics addressed by the book is less tailored to the interests of clinical engineers and HTM professionals. The book's intent is not to cover the range of medical devices typically used in patient care. Although the more theoretically oriented chapters (e.g., Bioimpedance Measurements, Model Investigation of Pseudo- Hypertension in Oscillometry) are remote from day-to-day HTM practice, they do provide background information on underlying principles, which may be helpful in special situations. Other chapters address devices commonly used in clinical practice (e.g., External Defibrillators, Mechanical Ventilation, Electrosurgical Devices) and therefore are likely to be of greater interest to clinical engineers and HTM professionals.

From an HTM perspective, one concern is that the set of clinically related topics is somewhat limited. Many widely used medical devices are not addressed by the book. Imaging technologies are not considered, neither are most laboratory devices. Patient monitoring is covered only at the most fundamental level (e.g., in the Biopotential Amplifiers chapter), rather that at the level of clinical application. This limits the value of the book as a reference source for HTM professionals.

A related but more troubling concern is that the chapters on clinically relevant devices are generally well behind the state of the art. Defibrillators are considered, but there is no mention of biphasic devices. Pulse oximeters are discussed in basic terms, but there is no mention of the more advanced technologies that have been in widespread use for many years. Again, the book does include information about fundamental principles, but this is of limited value to HTM professionals.

Finally, many of the references listed in the book are quite old. Some of these represent classic material, and their inclusion is welcome. However, some are simply out of date and should have been updated. The aging references in this book reveal its deep roots in earlier editions of The Biomedical Engineering Handbook. That would be a great strength if supplemented by up-to-date material.

In my opinion, this book is of limited value to clinical engineers and other HTM professionals. Nevertheless, it includes foundational material from highly respected editors and writers. For that reason, it may be more valuable to professionals in the broader field of biomedical engineering.

About the Reviewer

Matthew F. Baretich, PE, PhD, is president of Baretich Engineering, Inc., based in Fort Collins, CO. Email: mfb@baretich.com