One of the greatest pleasures of my professional life has been observing the development of the operating department practitioner (ODP) grade. I trained in anaesthesia in Liverpool, UK, in an environment where operating department assistants (ODAs) were respected members of the theatre team. They were well established in this area, mainly because enterprising consultant anaesthetists had trained them to the highest standards, teaching them skills in emergency medicine and anaesthesia of which many a houseman would be justifiably proud today. Examples would include: Dr AAGilbertson at Sefton General Hospital, Liverpool, who trained one of the main authors of this book, Tom Williams; Dr RS Ahearn at the Northern Hospital, Liverpool; Dr THL Bryson at Liverpool Women's Hospital; and Drs Colin Ince and Norton Williams at Whiston Hospital, Merseyside, where the other main author of this book, Brian Smith, worked.

By their example, anaesthetists such as these set high standards for ODAs to achieve. They gave the ODAs that essential professionalism which made them a pivotal part of the operating department team. Much was demanded of these ODAs in terms of time and effort, but in reward they received the unswerving support of the anaesthetic fraternity. Generations of anaesthetists came to respect them, and I proudly include myself in these minions. In addition, their unique Liverpool humour made these men (and they were mainly men at that time), loved by us all. It is apposite that increasing numbers of women (many of whom are qualified nurses), are now training as ODPs, and this is reflected in the strong female contribution to this book, which is also satisfying to observe.

There was no formal career structure for ODAs 30 years ago. It is only in the last 25 years that formal teaching has become established nationally for these essential workers, and now the ODP in training undergoes a structured programme of classroom as well as practical teaching. The standard of theoretical knowledge required of them to complete this training is very high indeed, and would surprise many unwitting medical practitioners.

This dictionary will contribute significantly to the trainee's comprehension of operating theatre life. Its structured approach makes for easy access and understanding, and it is most comprehensive in its detail. The reader is even told phonetically how to say each of the listed words. (Anaesthetists and nurses too may find this facility useful!) Equipment, drugs, diseases, symptoms, signs, anatomy, operations, and even theatre slang are covered. At the end a list of useful websites, and some normal physiological values are also included.

I am enormously proud to have watched these authors develop into significant academic contributors to their profession. I congratulate them wholeheartedly on their achievement, and very much hope that they continue to make such a major contribution in the future, for this is just what their own (strict) teachers would have expected.

Jennifer M. Hunter

Professor of Anaesthesia, University of Liverpool

Editor-in-Chief British Journal of Anaesthesia

February 2004

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