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Surgical Diseases of the Pancreas

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Surgical Diseases of the Pancreas. Howard J, Idezuki Y, Ihse I, Prinz R. (Pp 868; illustrated; £115.00.) Williams and Wilkins, 1998. ISBN 0-683-18019-3.

This book is a delight to own. It has already become my first choice for seeking out detailed information about obscure topics in pancreatic disease. The scope is defined by its title, and in a field where there are two three other similar volumes, this book stands ahead of its rivals because it contains in one volume almost everything the pancreatic surgeon will need to know about his specialty. The pages are packed with information although the small font size sometimes makes heavy going.

The production of the book is first class, and the quality of the illustrations, particularly the radiographs and photomicrographs, is excellent. The authors of the chapters are predominantly (by a ratio of 5 to 4) from North America, and the remainder from Europe and Japan. This gives a truly international feel.

The chapters vary from all embracing and heavily referenced (e.g. Causes of Pancreatitis has over 900 references, Pathophysiology and Pancreatitis deals with all the possible complications and covers medical treatment, with nearly 300 references) to chapters closely focused on specific areas covered in a few pages (Tumour Markers, Epidemiology of Cancer).

There is even detailed description of operative technique, rare in a book of this type, but welcome as an insight into how other experienced surgeons have approached difficult problems.

Some of the editing is understandably light handed in a book of this size. There is some variation in style, and it was surprising to see detailed description of multiple factor scoring systems in two consecutive chapters.

The index is not particularly reliable. For example “Neuroendrocrine Tumours” reveals a reference to only seven lines of text, but turning to the contents pages it is clear there are several chapters which deal with this topic.

The publishers should certainly consider presenting this book in CD-ROM format. This edition is extremely up to date, and conversion to electronic format would be worthwhile to enable the computer literate to gain rapid access to the wealth of information contained in its pages.