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Cholelithiasis: causes and treatment

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Cholelithiasis: causes and treatment. Nakayama F. (Pp 298; illustrated; $69.00.) Tokyo: Igaku-Shoin, 1997. ISBN 4-260-14334-4.

Now and again a doctor-scientist becomes so infatuated by gallstones that he gives his or her life to them (a recent example of this rare breed is a Romanian lady). The only cure is to write a monograph. Why do people get this illness? There are many reasons, but money is not one of them. Gallstones make surgeons rich, not scientists. The trouble is gallstones don’t kill people, except the occasional academic whose grant application has been turned down for the fifth time. If they did kill people—or if they disabled people or disfigured them—there would be Chairs of Cholelithology and aJournal of Cholelithology.

The disease is certainly common enough. In some places it afflicts up to 70% of women if they live long enough. But, despite this, gallstones are a fringe discipline attracting only those of a scholarly …

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