Practical Gastroenterology. Stuart Bloom, ed. Martin Dunitz Publishers, London, U.K., 2002; 688 pages, $68.00.
This book consists of 52 chapters and 688 pages. It is written primarily by authors from Great Britain who are experts in the numerous areas that are covered. The aim of the book is to be a practical handbook for trainees and new consultants in gastroenterology. As such, the book is divided into an excellent brief review of basic anatomy and science; Part I covers how to deal with inpatient consultations. Part II deals with managing gastroenterology inpatients, Part III deals with a problem-based approach to gastroenterology outpatients, and Part IV deals with procedures and investigations in gastroenterology. The culture of the book is clearly expressed in an appendix on gastroenterology training in Europe, which essentially describes the European Board of Gastroenterology, its component countries, and its requirements. Some of the gastroenterological societies in Europe are also described.
I particularly enjoyed the refresher course in basic gastroenterology, which makes up the first part of the book and clearly describes some of the basics in a contemporary fashion. Similarly, the chapters on reviewing ultrasound and imaging of the gut were very helpful as a review.
The book was published in 2002, Dr. Bloom wrote his preface in 2001, and a quick perusal of most of the references reveal that there are no references from 2000 and only an occasional 1999 reference, with most of the references used by the authors from 1996 and 1997. Therefore, one would have to assume that most of this text was written in the late 1990s and runs the risk of becoming out of date rapidly. An example of the problems with the book are the chapter on managing inflammatory bowel disease in outpatients. This makes up a significant part of consulting in gastroenterology, and the book is too superficial to be helpful to most gastroenterologists. An example of this is the discussion on ulcerative colitis, which only has one or two sentences on pouch surgery and does not discuss the details or difficulties with pouchitis. The chapter is written in outline fashion and does cover most of the information in a contemporary fashion that includes anti-TNF antibody therapy.
Another example of some of the overlap and difficulties in the book are Chapter 14 in Part II on esophageal problems and Chapter 37 in Part III on motility disorders of the esophagus and stomach. Both of these chapters tend to superficially review the problems with esophageal motility, but neither goes into enough depth to be very helpful to the clinician.
The mission of this book is to be a practical handbook and helpful to the trainee. I believe it accomplishes that goal. It is a quick review and that is extremely helpful. However, it does not have the depth to be useful to the trainee if they are seeking a detailed analysis of a particular subject, and it often does not have the depth to help a consultant gastroenterologist.
I found the text of this book extremely helpful in many areas and lacking in other areas. It is excellent for a quick review and a quick understanding of a disease; however, when one is seeking to understand a disease in depth, it often fails. Nevertheless, it is a book that I enjoyed reading, and I think most gastroenterologists will enjoy using and having on their shelf for a quick reference.
This book might be very helpful to the generalist and the internist who is looking for a brief review. For that audience, it is an excellent, quick reference.