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Current Trends in Digestive Ultrasonography

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Current Trends in Digestive Ultrasonography. Edited by Gandolfi L, Fukuda M. (Pp 394; illustrated; $298.25.) Basel, Switzerland: Karger, 1997. ISBN 3-8055-6374-4.

The editors of volume 24 of Frontiers in Gastrointestinal Research have enlisted the help of some of the leading international experts in ultrasound to provide a timely review of the leading edges of ultrasound applications in gastroenterology.

The ultrasound stethoscope is regarded by many as the ultimate progression of this technology into gastroenterological practice. In the UK, digestive ultrasonography has largely remained the province of radiologists, although recently the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) has recognised that there is a legitimate desire by some medical non-radiologists, such as gastroenterologists, to undertake ultrasound examinations as a direct extension of their clinical examination. The RCR has offered guidance for their training in ultrasound, and this book would be essential reading for any gastroenterologist embarking upon such a training programme. However, ultrasound always has been (and still is) highly operator dependent, and whether gastroenerologists and surgeons will ever put the requisite time and effort into acquiring sufficient practical expertise remains open to question.

Most of the chapters in this book are reviews of current ultrasound practice, and are well illustrated and comprehensively referenced. The roles of ultrasound in the diagnosis of hepatobiliary, pancreatic and gastrointestinal tracts are covered, with particular emphasis on the newer problems such as HIV infection and the assessment of liver transplants. There is a fascinating review of ultrasound in tropical medicine, and this is an area where ultrasound equipment scores over other imaging modalities such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging because of the obvious advantages of cost, reliability and portability.

Ultrasound guided therapy for liver tumours, intra-operative ultrasound, and the applications of Doppler ultrasound in gastroenterology are discussed and these are topics with which many gastroenterologists may not be familiar, whilst endoscopic ultrasound and the use of ultrasound for functional studies in the gastrointestinal system may be of particular interest to readers of this journal.

The editors have succeeded in their stated intention to put together a volume which will be of interest to radiologists, gastroenterologists, internists, and surgeons. Texts such as this are needed, both to inform established specialists of recent developments in gastroenterological ultrasound, and also to stimulate those in training to explore further the newer applications described. The state of the art is described, and the contributors have clearly demonstrated how ultrasound can permit quick, reproducible and non-invasive diagnosis as well as allowing for accurate image guided interventions. This volume will not only inform and encourage those who are not yet ultrasound aficionados to take more of an interest in the technique, but may also stimulate others to use ultrasound in future research endeavours.

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