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Fast Facts: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, 2nd edn
  1. D Thompson

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W Grant Thompson, K W Heaton. Oxford: Health Press, 2003, £12.00, pp 96. ISBN ISBN 1-903734-33-9

Functional gastrointestinal disorders in general, and irritable bowel syndrome in particular, have long been a minefield of misunderstanding and mismanagement which has caused confusion not only to clinicians but also to patients.

In recent years, an international working team have attempted to resolve this babel-like tower of confusion by forming the now famous Rome group and producing Rome criteria which have served to harmonise clinical terms and facilitate trials of therapy. However, in general, ex cathedra statements and weighty tomes from the Vatican have rarely changed the understanding of the gospel for the average cleric or parishioner, and a simpler interpretation is usually required. This little “hymnal” provided by two experienced practitioners with many decades of practical experience and a “cardinal” understanding of the issues of irritable bowel syndrome, now provides just what is necessary to bring the word to the people.

The book’s mission is to review in a simple and balanced way what we know (and what we do not know) about the nature of symptoms, and their causes, and how, in an equally simple and practical way, both the primary care practitioner and patients can help themselves to cope with what is often a disturbing chronic set of problems. Their communication style is clear and concise, and without any tendency to pontificate. While its target readership is stated to be the “family doctor”, I am sure that it is equally relevant for the gastroenterologist and for the trainee in gastroenterology for whom the standard textbooks on the subject do not offer much practical guidance in the clinic.

Broadsheet reading patients would also benefit from the balanced view provided by the authors and with luck might in turn reduce their uptake of many of the increasingly bizarre non-orthodox therapies which are now appearing.

The books first edition appeared in 1999, and has now, by popular demand, been re-published in an extensively updated version. It clearly reflects current understanding of the condition and provides a balanced and pragmatic view of its management.

In short, an excellent and up to date pocket psalter for the practitioner.