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Atlas of Gastroenterology

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Atlas of Gastroenterology, 2nd edn. Edited by T Yamada, DH Alpers, L Laine, et al (Pp 928; illustrated; £130.00). USA: Lipincott Williams and Wilkins, 1999. 0-397-58767-8.

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is as applicable to the teaching of gastroenterology as in any other context now that gastroenterology has become a visual science. Any atlas must stand or fall on the quality of the photographs and here the reader will not be disappointed as the vast majority are of excellent clarity and content. The second edition of this Atlas of Gastroenterology provides the most comprehensive visual images in gastroenterology this reviewer has seen, covering the broad spectrum of gastroenterology—histology, endoscopic images, CT scans, radionuclide imaging, and magnetic resonance imaging, including MR cholangiopancreatography. However, there are no “virtual endoscopy” images, which is a surprise and disappointment.

The atlas has a user friendly format setting pictures in their clinical context making perfect sense and easy access. There is a series of chapters entitled “Approaches to common gastrointestinal problems” beginning with a brief review of the clinical problem followed by a range of images used in establishing diagnosis, thus putting the image in context with the clinical findings at the appropriate point in the management pathway. There are also chapters on particular gastrointestinal diseases and a series of chapters illustrating diagnostic and therapeutic techniques, all written and compiled by acknowledged experts in their field. Reference lists are suitably brief and up to date.

The atlas seeks to provide more than a picture book of gastroenterology but perhaps goes rather too far by providing information that would normally be within a textbook of gastroenterology. For example, there is a chapter entitled “Advice to travellers” that gives information about required vaccinations in various parts of the world and drug treatment for traveller's diarrhoea. There are also several chapters with extensive clinical information that is more than just an accompaniment to the images. In one chapter, there is a long list of drugs likely to induce liver disease—appropriate for a textbook but not for an atlas, particularly when this atlas is designed for use with its partner the Textbook of Gastroenterologyby the same editors.

This atlas provides the most up to date high quality illustrative review of gastroenterology and could perhaps only be improved by the addition of a slide or CD version. Access to the images via the Internet will probably be the next step but I for one would miss the pleasure of leafing through a book.