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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease. D S Rampton, F Shanahan (Pp 108; illustrated; £12.00). Oxford UK: Health Press, 2000. ISBN 1-899541-49-7.

Would I feel tempted to buy this book? At £12.00 it is a give away price and an excellent buy. It provides an up to date and easily read guide to our present understanding of the cause, diagnosis, and management of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It certainly provides an authoritative handbook for specialist registrars or even concerned patients. Its one weakness lies in the absence of references—but within 100 pages could one realistically expect to achieve this? Its role as a handbook for a consultant is less clear. Most of the information it contains should be already known to him or her, but it certainly could refresh that knowledge.

Inflammatory bowel disease is laid out in an attractive format with clear subtitles, useful summary tables, and a good range of illustrations. The impact of inflammatory bowel disease on aspects of life such as fertility, sexual relations, education, employment, and the consequences of the disease in childhood are dealt with in a limited way. The growing role of the specialist nurse in counselling and support is not considered in the book although it could provide useful background reading for anyone working in such a role.

I was particularly impressed by the inclusion of such esoteric treatments as arsenic suppositories in the text although this was omitted from the index. Remicaide was also absent from the index but dealt with in the text. In future editions the index could be strengthened by a more uniform inclusion of key terms. Another useful innovation could be the listing of reliable web sites.

With the growth of expensive, lengthy, but definitive textbooks that are almost by definition out of date at the time of publication, there is a clear need for cheap authoritative works that will have a relatively short shelf life and can be quickly revised or replaced. The philosophy behind the Health Press gives hope that they may be able to fill this important niche in the medical book market. Critical to this approach is the need for low cost.