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R Chapman, H C Bodenheimer jr. London: Manson Publishing, 2003, £16.95, pp 192. ISBN ISBN 1-874545-48-0
Roger Chapman and Henry Bodenheimer have produced a useful addition to the libraries of gastroenterologists with an interest in liver disease. Hepatobiliary Medicine provides 180 questions and answers in 190 pages covering a wide range of hepatobiliary problems. The book will fit in a white coat pocket and is printed on high quality glossy paper. The questions comprise case histories illustrated with laboratory test results and photographs of histology and imaging investigations. Unfortunately, the reproduction does not allow readers to recognise some of the histological and imaging abnormalities referred to in the text, but most can be discerned with the benefit of hindsight (and the answers). The authors have done an excellent job in assembling a diverse collection of cases with relevant images and laboratory data. The questions are presented on one side of the page and the answers are on the reverse, allowing the reader to formulate their own responses without “cheating.”
The subject matter of the book encompasses the full range of liver diseases, including a fair smattering of rarities that are only likely to be encountered more than once by specialist hepatologists. Indeed, the content of some of the cases will test experts. Hepatobiliary Medicine fulfils the remit of the series, as declared in the book’s header, to help readers “learn, revise, reinforce”. Inclusion of a number of paediatric cases will be particularly helpful to adult gastroenterologists/hepatologists who are occasionally asked to see paediatric cases.
The authors have included an index and a list of cases classified by diagnosis. This is extremely useful when using the book for revision or reinforcement. Browsing the classification of cases reveals some surprising choices of emphasis. Eight questions on primary sclerosing cholangitis, seven on Wilson’s disease, and one on fatty liver disease hardly reflects the distribution of cases that the general gastroenterologist might encounter but the selection of cases will educate and inform, and the choices reflect the difficulty of diagnostic conundrums rather than disease prevalence.
Publication of this short textbook is timely with the growth of hepatology as a subspeciality and the shortening of training programmes reducing the opportunities for trainees to “learn by osmosis” through case based experience. This book will be particularly useful for trainees in gastroenterology and hepatology.
However, there are a few caveats and some things that could have been done better. Hepatobiliary Medicine does not claim to be a textbook but the authoritative voice used in the answers caries an air of certainty. In the vast majority of cases, little fault can be found with the information contained in the answers although the level of knowledge assumed by the authors and that offered to the readers is variable. As a result, some of the information contained in the answers is superficial and some is out of date. Inclusion of key references and a recommended reading list would have been helpful. A compact disc or website presenting the photographic images might enhance the visual aspects of the book.
This book will be useful to trainees in gastroenterology and hepatology, to specialists who are asked to consult on difficult hepatobiliary cases, and even to specialist hepatologists seeking reinforcement of problems they rarely encounter. Self Assessment Colour Review of Hepatobiliary Medicine is a useful addition to the gastroenterologist’s library.
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