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An Atlas of Diagnostic Radiology in Gastroenterology

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An Atlas of Diagnostic Radiology in Gastroenterology. Edited by Vallance R. (Pp 396; illustrated; £120) Oxford: Blackwell Science, 1998. ISBN 0 63205 022 5.

It seems almost unimaginable to me that, somewhere out there, exists a clinical gastroenterologist who would not want to own this book. Maybe I was destined to be the curator of the book review section of Gut just so that a review copy of this majestic atlas might come across my desk. What little effort it is to find words of praise for this tour de forceof gastrointestinal radiology.

In one of the most delightfully understated introductions of the century, Roddy MacSween writes that “...this volume brings credit to radiology as a discipline”. Oh yes indeed, and so very much more! Dr Vallance and selected colleagues have produced a book in which every single illustration (and there are many hundreds) is crystal clear. There are many radiological texts that are comprehensive, and there is a lesser number in which the pictures are clear. There are few books indeed in which every picture credibly reveals the pathology in a totally convincing manner. I do not believe there is single illustration in this book that is not of a high order, and this applies equally to plain radiographs, barium studies, ultrasound, CT, MRI, angiography, or EUS.

Despite its visual excellence, there are idiosyncrasies. Quite what CT and MRI scans of parotid tumours are doing in a book of GI radiology quite escapes this reviewer. Less satisfactory still are some of the mini essays introducing each system. I suspect most readers will not be particularly enlightened by the two page essays that introduce each organ—too brief to say any more than most clinicians must surely know already. For example, who would learn much from:

Ileostomy enema. The distal small bowel may be examined satisfactorily in patients with an ileostomy by retrograde infusion of barium with or without air, introduced by Foley catheter.

The essays are weak, but the legends and the figures are of exceptional quality. A well constructed legend obviates the need for arrows, or other marks, on the radiograph. In this atlas, arrows do appear from time to time, but they are not intrusive. I suggest that this atlas might very well be added to the extremely short list of books that every gastroenterologist should own.