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Authors > Joel A. Kaplan, MD

“The sixth edition of Kaplan’s Cardiac Anesthesia parallels the changes that are happening today in anesthesia for cardiac surgery.” – Joel A. Kaplan, MD

Using Kaplan’s Cardiac Anesthesia in Practice

I was recently in the operating room with a resident and a medical student, doing an off-pump coronary bypass operation. The medical student asked a question and I referred them to the small version of the book — Essentials of Cardiac Anesthesia. The resident said, “There’s much more information in the new big book,” so he pulled out Kaplan’s Cardiac Anesthesia: The Echo Era, 6th Edition and we looked at some of the color pictures. The resident began talking about the echo and the changes in wall motion that were happening in this case, but the student was having a little trouble visualizing it. So, we went to the computer in the operating room and we pulled up the echoes online and the medical student immediately could see the wall motion changes. So it really dramatized the change from just a black and white book to the color of the sixth edition to the videos that are available now. 

Dr. Kaplan’s Path to Cardiac Anesthesia

I started off in internal medicine, training in cardiology, but I found that I loved a specific part of it — critical care in the intensive care unit. I found chronic care in the clinic to be very slow. I liked very intense situations. So after training in cardiology and internal medicine I decided to switch to anesthesiology primarily to move into critical care medicine. I wanted to take care of sick cardiac patients in the ICU, so I looked around at the kind of training you needed to be an intensivist in those days. There were many choices, but most people directed me to anesthesia. They said that anesthesiologists are the future of critical care, so I ended up going to the University of Pennsylvania, and started my anesthesia residency thinking I was going take a fellowship at the end in critical care and become an intensivist. Along the way I went into the open heart room and I started doing anesthesia for cardiac surgery and I found it to be the most exciting thing I had ever done. That was where the real action was taking place. So, I ended up building my whole career around the operating room and taking my experiences in cardiology and applying them to anesthesia.

As cardiac anesthesiologists, we take on the role of the cardiologist, taking care of the patient throughout surgery, making sure that while the surgeon is working on the heart, the patient is doing okay. It’s an exciting and challenging field that I’ve never lost interest in. I stopped doing it for a while when I was an administrator. I really missed it though and said, “I want to go back to the operating room where I had fun.” So that’s what I do today. I work part-time and I teach residents and fellows and medical students in an exciting environment how to take care of the sickest patients coming in for the biggest operations. And, the patients do tremendously well today. 

New in This Edition of Kaplan’s Cardiac Anesthesia

The sixth edition of Kaplan’s Cardiac Anesthesia: The Echo Era parallels the changes that are happening today in anesthesia for cardiac surgery. In the operating room, we have moved towards monitoring all the patients with transesophageal echocardiography. The focus of the book is really to emphasize the role of echocardiography in the management of the cardiac patient during cardiac surgery. So every chapter has elements related to echocardiography. This is the first edition that’s been printed in full color with just beautiful photography. It’s also the first edition that’s online with the videos, which has become a major focus of the book. You can read about coronary artery surgery, then look at the pictures of the echocardiograms during surgery, and then go online and actually see the videos. Putting it all together is a unique teaching and learning experience.

With this edition, we’re also going to continue to upgrade the book. One of the problems with books in my experience is they become outdated very quickly. In the journal that I edit, every two months we bring out new cases, new echo material, and the latest in cardiac anesthesia. We’re now going to use summaries and pieces of that to update the book online. So, over the next five years, the book will be a living book, with additional material added all along. Then that will be incorporated into the next edition. So, that’s quite an exciting advance from what we had previously. 


Joel A. Kaplan, MD served as Vice President for Health Affairs, Dean of the School of Medicine and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Louisville.  Prior to this, Dr. Kaplan served as Chief, Division of Cardiothoracic Anesthesia, at Emory University from 1974-1983 and Chairman, Department of Anesthesiology, at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in NYC from 1983-1998.

A prolific author, Dr. Kaplan has authored and co-authored more than 200 manuscripts, textbooks, and review articles. He is an author of Kaplan’s Cardiac Anesthesia, 6th Edition and Essentials of Cardiac Anesthesia. He has served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia and past editor-in-chief of Seminars in Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia and Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia Updates.  Dr. Kaplan is a fellow of the American College of Anesthesiology, the American College of Chest Physicians, and the American College of Cardiology.