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ABC of Colorectal Diseases. 2nd edn. Edited by Jones DJ. (Pp 109; illustrated; £18.95.) London: BMJ Books, 1999. ISBN 0-7279-1105-8.
The series of ABC articles in the BMJis always enjoyable. This book brings together articles that were published several years ago and were well received in the first edition of 1993. These articles have been updated and eight additional chapters have been added on constipation, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, anal cancer, colorectal trauma, tropical colonic diseases, and paediatric problems.
The editor (DJ Jones) has turned vision into reality to produce a basic and useful coloproctology text. He has also worked hard as he has written half of the chapters (nine solo and three shared). The authors of the first chapter on Anatomy and Physiology of the Colon, Rectum and Anus are Mr Hill and Professor Irving: the former runs the immensely successful M62 Coloproctology Course and the latter needs little introduction and is President of the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland. Not surprisingly they combine forces to produce three pages with all the basic facts and 10 superb illustrations.
Chapter 2 takes the reader through examination (I appreciated time spent on how to perform a rectal examination) and tests from proctoscopy to colonic transit studies. Chapters 3–23 then cover all aspects of colorectal disease before the final chapter on drugs. Each chapter is concise (3–6 pages) and packed with really good photographs and illustrations. All credit to the various departments of medical illustration involved in this venture!
For me the prize chapter is on inflammatory bowel disease: the authors (Mr Scott and Professor Thompson) bridge the gap between a presentation of the vital facts and the thorny management issues so eloquently.
Who should read this book? Let us first consider the exciting and challenging times that we are living in. At long last colorectal cancer is receiving due recognition from the Government, primary care physicians, managers, and the general public. Attention is upon us and our daily work load is ever increasing. How encouraging that at a time like this the arms of colorectal surgeons from Penzance to John O'Groats have been or are soon to be strengthened by the colorectal nurse specialist. This book will be very useful to them.
Who else will find this book useful? Well certainly medical students, trainees in gastroenterology and surgery, and our general practitioner colleagues. And dare I also suggest gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons. Not because we'd learn anything of course. Actually, that's rubbish because I was full of the new facts I learnt over this last weekend and I was educating everyone in theatre this Monday afternoon! I definitely will be using this book in preparing for both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.