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Practical Management of Oesophageal Disease. Edited by A Adam, R Mason, W Owen (£69.95). UK: Isis Medical Media Ltd, 2000. ISBN 1-899066-94-2.
The choice of title for a book can make or break its sales. Despite any caution or maturity of judgement we may claim, it seems we are all at risk of being seduced by books with titles such as “ Improve your golf”, or “Make the stock market work for you”. Read the book and find the success/wealth/glamorous lifestyle or whatever that has eluded you up to now. Practical management of oesophageal disease is in this mould—the title hints not at a glamorous lifestyle admittedly, but at delivering the easy answers gastroenterologists would like to find for all oesophageal problems. And of course it does not deliver them. However, if expectations are tempered to the real world rather than fantasy, this is a useful book, written by people who know their subject, describing what they do and why.
In 12 chapters, the 20 authors give their own perspectives on the major topics in oesophageal disease. There is a surgical bias (for example, medical management of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is covered in two pages, surgical management in 12) which is not altogether unexpected with a mainly surgical authorship but it is not a problem once the reader appreciates that the book is a vehicle in which the authors explain their own approach to topics on which they are expert without necessarily dealing with every topic or every viewpoint. All topics considered are important in clinical practice. Approximately a third of the book is on oesophageal cancer, which is covered in breadth and depth, and in a way that offers something of real value for everyone.
In fact, this quality is the essence of the book—it has something in it of value to almost every gastroenterologist. For example, even physicians professing a major interest in the gullet may be just a little vague about the surgical technicalities of an Ivor Lewis oesophagectomy, and if they need the detail they will find it here. Upper gastrointestinal surgeons may welcome information about the otolarnygologists' views on modern management of pharyngeal pouch and hypopharyngeal carcinoma, and the explanation of a physiologist's approach to use of the oesophageal laboratory. Both medical and surgical gastroenterologists are likely to value clear expositions of the place of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and multimodality treatments for patients with oesophageal cancer. For clinicians whose interest in the oesophagus ends with onward referral of patients who do not get better with a proton pump inhibitor, there is still something of value—they will at least be helped to interpret the clinical history.
The editors and publishers have done well—the book is easy to hold, easy to use, and easy to read. Reality being as it is, you will not find answers to all of your questions or solutions to all oesophageal problems, but it deals with many of them clearly and with evident expertise.
PS. If anyone knows of a short book entitled “Get yourself a perfect golf swing” or one on “How to make £££millions from derivatives”, please let me know.
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