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A Forbes, J J Misiewicz, C C Compton, et al. Oxford: Elsevier Mosby, 2005, pp 358. ISBN 07234283X
“A picture is worth a thousand words”, Napoleon Bonaparte. In this atlas, every picture tells a story. It is not surprising, considering the pace at which gastroenterology has moved ahead, that the third edition of this visual extravaganza is radically different from the second edition published in 1994. The chapters are generally arranged in anatomical sequence, and each chapter provides a brief anatomical introduction. Contrast barium radiology, ultrasonography, and endoscopy dominate the atlas, and there is a rich selection of histopathology of gastrointestinal diseases. There are also some nice operative photographs. However, magnetic resonance imaging scans are fewer in number and there is only a token representation of endoscopic ultrasonography. Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography of the biliary and pancreatic ducts is also somewhat neglected. Computed tomography (CT) scans are well represented in the hepatic and pancreatobiliary sections. Wireless capsule endoscopy is now represented, although the pictures are not the best that may be obtained, nor extensive. Sonde enteroscopy is depicted but not the more recent double balloon enteroscopy. Virtual CT colonoscopy also makes a debut. Some of the advances in endoscopic imaging, such as zoom endoscopic pictures and confocal endoscopy, are missing.
Most common and many rare diseases are represented in a wide selection of photographs. Going through the index, some omissions are notable, such as Behcet’s disease, amyloidosis, and immunoproliferative small intestinal disease, common in some parts of the world.
Despite some of these limitations, the atlas is extremely well balanced and a true page-turner. It is a great aid to teaching by including a free accompanying CD which is easy to navigate. The CD also makes the atlas very portable, a drawback of large heavy volumes. The CD is also enhanced by inclusion of videos. The text is concise and appropriate to a visual atlas enhancing, rather than distracting, the visual appeal. It is well worth having a copy simply as a treasure chest of the specialty and for those commencing their specialist career, a superbly efficient way of increasing their clinical acumen. Some sections are truly outstanding, such as hepatic histopathology and the section on infective colitis. Paediatric gastroenterology is also represented with some outstanding contributions.
The quality of the volume is outstanding, the pictures crisp, and the colours vibrant. Hiding the figure legends is a good way of testing clinical diagnostic skills. Gastroenterology specialist nurses and endoscopy nurses also enjoy this type of learning experience and it is well worth ensuring that the volume is easily available to them.
“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera”, Lewis Hine. I do hope this atlas stimulates every gastroenterologist to photographically record interesting findings, as gastroenterology is a very visual specialisation. Buy one and keep it, and it will keep its value for years, like a 1998 Mouton Rothschild.