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Textbook of Gastrointestinal Radiology, 2nd edn, vols 1 and 2
  1. S Halligan

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With Margulis and Burhenne's Alimentary Tract Radiology currently out of print, the Textbook of Gastrointestinal Radiology is the only large all encompassing reference text for gastrointestinal radiologists and interested gastroenterologists. This is the second edition and its predecessor was never far from my hand, especially when a particularly difficult or obscure differential diagnosis was required. While reviewing a book can sometimes be a necessary chore, this is a delight, not least because it is an essential purchase for any aspiring gastrointestinal radiologist.

This large two volume set attempts to cover the whole gamut of gastrointestinal radiology, both luminal and solid organ, in 131 chapters. The editors state their aim “to provide complete, up to date coverage of the state of knowledge in gastrointestinal radiology in a practical and useable way.” While large books such as this can sometimes be criticised as cumbersome, the editor's ambitions demand a format capable of presenting the necessary breadth and depth required of a reference text, and I would argue that the book is indeed practical and useable; I certainly found the predecessor so. The plethora of chapters is sensibly divided into those dealing with hollow and solid viscera, each preceded by sections dealing with general techniques and principles of interpretation. There are also sections on paediatric disease and common clinical problems. The respective organ sections are generally exhaustive; for example, separate chapters are entirely devoted to postoperative appearances.

I have only one criticism, albeit major. The editors claim to have assembled “an outstanding group of internationally recognised authors”. While this is probably true, they are certainly not international! Although not overtly stated, this is essentially a North American text; a paltry three of the 124 authors hail from outside this continent. I cannot help feeling this prevents the text from being truly definitive. Gastrointestinal radiology is a well defined subspecialty and the movers and shakers are by no means exclusively North American. I suspect the editor's parochial approach is partly responsible for some glaring errors of omission. For example, anal endosonography, a clinically important and well disseminated technique, is rarely practised by North American radiologists and not even mentioned in passing. Indeed, the relative dearth of ultrasound in general probably reflects transatlantic practice. I hope other omissions, for example colonic stenting and the use of magnetic resonance imaging to assess and classify perineal fistulae, merely reflect the time taken to get a large book like this into the shops rather than spectrum bias. The absence of virtual colonoscopy is almost certainly due to publication lag; it is mentioned in the preface but absent in the book!

However, there is little to criticise when straying into more conventional territory and here the North American authorship brings undoubted benefits for a reference text; it would be difficult to find more extensive references to computed tomography imaging of gastrointestinal pathology elsewhere. From personal experience, most chapters dealing with mainstream topics can be used as well referenced starting points for indepth analysis of the particular field described. So, with the caveat mentioned, the second edition of this book remains as invaluable as the first and is certainly a must-buy for any gastrointestinal radiologist who needs a reference text to hand in his or her office, or for more leisurely inspection at home.

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