All are available online for free at http://www.cma.ca . These books are generally equivalent, so pick one to start your adventure in General Surgery Reading. We suggest you borrow them from the library or peruse online before you buy to find the best fit for you.



Advantages: General guide on all general surgical issues. Anatomy, embryology, pathophysiology.

Disadvantages: Not an atlas or surgical technique book. Too detailed at times, difficult to recall all material read in one sitting.

Use for: Outlining presentations, Surgical Foundations, a starting point for junior residents, general overview of all topics.


Advantages: General guide on all general surgical issues. Includes anatomy, embryology, pathophysiology. Some of us think it is the most useful of the three in preparing for oral exams and attendings’ quizzes as opposed to Greenfield’s being better for preparing for written exams.
Disadvantages: Not an atlas or surgical technique book. Too detailed at times, difficult to recall all material read in one sitting.

Use for: Outlining presentations, Surgical Foundations, acts as starting point for junior residents, general overview of all topics.


Advantages: Some find it easier to read and remember chapter details.

Disadvantages: Again, no specific operative details.

Use for: Overview for junior and senior residents, good review book.

American College of Surgeons

Advantages: Available online, updated yearly, free with your ACS or CMA membership, review questions at the end of every chapter.

Cameron: Current Surgical Therapy

 (consider after Surgical Foundations)

Advantages: Clinically relevant, contains algorithms, good preparation for senior years post-Surgical Foundations. Provides a very focused and manageable overview of specific subtopics.
Disadvantages: Minimal anatomical information, minimal pathophysiology, difficult for junior residents due to lack of background knowledge. Different authors for each edition therefore little continuity between editions.

Other Helpful General References

Lange: Current Diagnosis and Treatment – Surgery

Advantages: Brief, concise, portable, introduction to a topic, information on other surgical specialties.

Disadvantages: Not enough detail. Not appropriate for advanced levels.

Use for: Junior residents, medical students, on call issues.

Rush Review of Surgery

Advantages: Pure question and answer format. Mostly only useful for self-assessment as there is only a brief explanation of answers. Very helpful to check knowledge of concepts and identify weak areas.


Advantages: Good reference for Surgical Foundations, portable, easy to read, additional subspecialty information.

Disadvantages: Too general for senior years, no surgical techniques.

Operative Dictations in General and Vascular Surgery

Advantages: Helpful for learning to dictate. Great script/starting point.

Top Knife

Well-loved book on emergency general surgery. Easy to read style, fun for all ages. Great tips for surgeons interested in trauma.

Cope’s Early Diagnosis of the Acute Abdomen

Advantages: reasoned approach to physical exam. A classic. Latest edition is 2010. 

Disadvantages: Not a good quick reference, this is more a cover-to-cover read.

Chassin’s Operative Strategy in General Surgery: An Expositive Atlas

Advantages: Excellent approach to most general surgical operations in a concise and practical format. Nice figures and well written. Good description of the steps of an operation, useful for preparing for oral exams.

Disadvantages: May not be the most up to date textbook regarding surgical decision- making.

Shackelford, Surgery of the Alimentary Tract

Advantages: Complete review of pathologies of the GI tract. Used by some programs as THE review book for PGY-5. Especially good for pancreaticobiliary tract. Outstanding figures.

Disadvantages: Does not cover non-GI general surgery.

Acute Care Surgery: Principles and Practices

Advantages: Good for residents interested in acute care surgery/trauma/ICU. Head-to-toe approach to surgical emergencies.

Disadvantages: NOT a review book.

Atlases, Books on Surgical Technique


Skandalakis: Surgical Anatomy and Technique: A Pocket Manual

Advantages: Quick reference for surgical anatomy and technique if you have not reviewed the operation beforehand. Good to keep in locker.

Disadvantages: Not very detailed, no thorough anatomy, all pictures in black and white.

Use for: Reviewing operation and techniques pre-op.

Zollinger: Atlas of Surgical Operations

Advantages: Lots of pictures, the classic atlas.

Disadvantages: Minimal written detail, cumbersome and not portable.

Mastery of Surgery

Advantages: Covers a lot of laparoscopic and open surgery, information on pre-operative and post-operative care, thorough review of anatomy, excellent colour pictures. Available online.

Disadvantages: Not a quick reference, not always up to date.

Use for: Learning operative steps.

Operative anatomy: Scott-Connor, Dawson

Advantages: Focuses on important anatomy for surgical procedure, good written details on how to perform operations.

Disadvantages: Could use more pictures, not a lot of information on pre-and post- operative management and complications.

Use for: Learning operations

Maingot’s Abdominal Operations, Volume I and II

Advantages: Good mix of text and atlas. Great technical details. Clear illustrations and good literature review. Benefits both senior resident and general surgeon.

Disadvantages: Not portable (except newest edition)

Atlas of Laparoscopic Surgery

Advantages: Atlas of laparoscopic procedures, both basic and advanced. Includes commentaries and illustrations.

Pocket References

The Mont Reid Surgical Handbook

Good for R1 and preparing right before a case or consult, point form and brief.

On Call: Principles and Protocols, and On Call: Surgery

Excellent reference for ward management, junior resident level.

MD Anderson

Concise review on all cancers, including epidemiology, diagnostic tests and treatment algorithms. Good references. Only draw-back: very specific to MD Anderson protocols.

University of Toronto Surgical Oncology Manual

A concise and practical guide to nearly all cancers general surgeons have to deal with.

Useful Phone Apps

App Name Description Pros Cons
TNM Cancer Staging Calculator

Generates TNM staging criteria and uses HER2, ER, PR status to generate prognostic score Simple to use

Free of charge

Definitions based on 8th edition of AJCC Cancer Staging Manual


39.99$ once

Practical diagnosis-based guide to common General Surgery conditions including epidemiology, clinical presentation, investigation and treatment/management Compiled from notes from ULaval study guide for the Royal College exam

Easy search function

Allows for personal note taking in-app

Available only in French

Moderate one-time fee


24.99$ once

Internal medicine information and guidelines based on the 7th edition of the Lanthier pocketbook. Organized by diagnosis/clinical presentation Free download and 7 day trial

Allows for personal note taking in-app

24.99 for full features

In-App purchases


The Institute national d’excellence en sante? et en services sociaux (INESSS) developed this guideline to antibiotic treatment of common medical and surgical pathologies Free of charge


English updates are less frequent

Improvements needed for user interface


6.99$ once

Easy to use tool to determine medical condition scores, classifications and use of formulas in areas such as ICU, cardiology, anesthesiology, pediatrics and more Free download

Access to small number of formulas for free, 300 when purchased

Formulas and uses explained

Allows adding personal notes

In-App purchases

Free version does not allow for unit conversion


13.99$ once

Useful tool for common issues and calls for inpatients and emergency consultations, organized by clinical presentation Lists of appropriate investigations provided

Well elaborated treatment algorithms

English only
IR Hemo Guide

1.99$ once

Tool for managing anticoagulation peri-interventionally (when to hold and resume), considering creatinine clearance, INR and procedure risks among other factors Easy to use interface and decision trees


Specific to interventional radiology procedures
UptoDate UpToDate is the leading clinical decision

support resource with evidence-based

clinical information – including drug topics and recommendations that clinicians rely on at the point of care.

Easy to use app version of website, stores continuing medical education credits, and saves page bookmarks and highlights If not covered by Medical School, expensive annual fee
Guide AOD


Guide for direct oral anticoagulation use, indications, doses, interactions, contraindications, peri and postoperative management and necessary follow up Free off charge French only
RX Critique

14.99$ annual

This is an Intravenous Critical Drugs Guide intended as a reference for 60 of the most commonly used IV drugs on dosages, stability, precautions with use etc. Now on 11th edition

Free to download, restricted access

Annual fee of 14.99 for full access
RX Vigilance

299$ annual

A reference tool that features information on drugs and health. Provides relevant and up to date information from several dozen leading reference sources. Drug monographs, pharmacological profile analysis, and information on natural products and travel Large library of medications, their indications, interactions and safety profiles

Travel immunization requirements

Requires account, and annual fee for full access

89.99$ annual

Allows writing and capturing ideas as searchable notes, checklists, to-do lists and compiles as notebooks

Storage capacity for downloaded documents

Includes free trial to monthly personal planner

Compatible with multiple devices

Search function within saved notes

Calendar syncing

Pricing for premium subscription

Password protected, low security

Online Resources

SAGES Surgical Fundamentals

Free access to didactic content for the SAGES’ FLS, FES, FUSE, and Safe Cholecystectomy programs.

Click here

National Comprehensive Cancer Network

Up to date guidelines of management of cancer patients from screening and diagnosis, to treatment.

Click here


The Toronto Video Atlas of Surgery is a 3D-animation enhanced surgical video atlas. 

Click here

Surgical Council on Resident Education

Provides high-quality educational materials and a structured program for self-learning on a wide variety of general surgery and subspecialty topics.

Click here