Physician's Bookshelf



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Am Fam Physician. 1999 Apr 1;59(7):2035-2043.

Book Reviews

Atlas of Human Anatomy

By Frank H. Netter. Pp. 616. 2d ed. Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp., Medical Education, 556 Morris Ave., Summit, NJ 07901-1398, 1998.

Most physicians are familiar with The CIBA (now Netter) Collection of Medical Illustrations and also the Clinical Symposia containing thousands of illustrations by the well-known physician and illustrator Frank Netter (1906–1991). Dr. Netter's illustrations skillfully and honestly depict anatomy, physiology, pathology, histology, embryology and clinical manifestations of disease.

Over the years, Netter received many requests from physicians and medical students for an atlas of purely gross anatomy. In 1989, two years before his death, Dr. Netter published the first edition of his Atlas of Human Anatomy. This one-volume work is now in its 10th printing, and the second edition was published in 1997. The multivolume Netter Collection of Medical Illustrations presented medicine systemically (respiratory, endocrine), but the Atlas of Human Anatomy uses a regional approach to gross anatomy (head and neck, abdomen, thorax).

Dr. Arther F. Dalley II, professor of anatomy at Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, and president of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists, led the team in analyzing, updating and editing the materials for the second edition. New to this edition are additional Netter illustrations, as well as illustrations by artist Carlos Machado, M.D. A new section on cross-sectional anatomy is particularly helpful in visualizing relationships of anatomic structures that might be seen in magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scans. Corrections of anatomic errors have been made, labeling of anatomic structures has been updated to the most current standard of terminology (anglicized forms rather than Latin forms), and some of the more common eponyms have been included parenthetically—for example, “Great cerebral vein (Galen).”

While the quality of some of the anatomic figures is not always consistent, Dr. Netter's ability to visualize and simplify complex structures and regions cannot be questioned. The Atlas of Human Anatomy, second edition, would be a handy reference for the student in medical studies, as well as for physicians who wish to refamiliarize themselves with anatomy of the human body.

Book Reviews

Conn's Current Therapy 1998

Edited by Robert E. Rakel. Pp. 1,360. Price, $59.00. Saunders, 625 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106, 1998.

When we moved our office across town last year, we discarded the numerous copies of Conn's that we had accumulated over the years. We salvaged the 1990 edition, our most recent, even though someone had edited the cover with a felt marker so that it read “Not-So-Current Therapy.” The 1998 50th anniversary edition was a welcome addition to our office library, as I am sure it was to all family physicians who have come to rely on and trust this icon of office reference textbooks.

With its gold and embossed cover, this commemorative edition looks more like a school yearbook than a textbook, but its contents and systematically organized format live up to the standards we have come to expect from Conn's. Dr. Robert Rakel, a family physician, returned as the editor, and he assembled an impressive array of contributors who appear as sole authors in over 97 percent of the chapters. Of the 310 authors, 180 are full professors and 64 of those are department chairs, section chiefs or deans, thus ensuring the academic credentials of the contributors.

Dr. Rakel has continued the tradition of providing new authors each year to address the topics that family physicians deal with the most. Thus, 95 percent of the material in this volume is new. This planned obsolescence allows Dr. Rakel to fulfill his pledge “to provide the most up to date treatments,” but it creates a dilemma for practitioners, who must update their volume every year or two.

To test the utility of the book, I read a couple of chapters for my own update, and then used it in the office for a review of hypercalcemia and hyperparathyroidism during a patient visit. The systematic arrangement of topics and the succinct material made it possible to do a quick “hallway consult” with a Conn's expert, who guided me through a review of this topic. When I read the chapter on diabetes for current information, I found the text to be thorough and timely.

More graphics would enhance the aesthetic appeal of the book but would not add to its overall effectiveness. The first section, on symptomatic care pending diagnosis, might have been more useful if it included the commonly seen complaints of “weak and dizzy” rather than hiccups.

It is indeed comforting to have the trusty Conn's back on the bookshelf. My only regret is that we won't be able to wear it out before the next edition appears.

Book Reviews

Handbook of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Primary Care

Edited by Frederick P. Zuspan and Edward J. Quilligan. Pp. 704. Price, $39.95. Mosby, 11830 Westline Industrial Dr., St. Louis, MO 63146-3318, 1998.

The Handbook of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Primary Care tries to be several things to different users and succeeds remarkably well despite its seemingly conflicting goals. For example, as a self-described handbook, it aims to be a practical and quick resource. At the same time, it carries research information and enters into details that readers are more likely to expect in a full-fledged textbook.

The dimensions compared with the heft of this book says it all: the book measures 7 by 4 inches—a standard size for a handbook—but contains 703 pages. Thus, the owner is not sure whether it should occupy a place among other venerable volumes on the shelf, or whether it should be carried around in a coat pocket for frequent consultation. That decision will have to be made by each user individually.

On the practical side, this handbook offers succinct and useful information, often conveniently summarized in the form of an algorithm. Emphasis on diagnosis and treatment, with supporting tables and key points, adds to the easy access of this volume. However, brevity becomes almost a fault, in that complex decisions illustrated in the algorithms are not always explained. For example, part of an algorithm on ectopic pregnancy leads too abruptly to surgical exploration when observation or additional ultrasound would have been warranted to confirm the diagnosis. Another algorithm calls for readers to “verify diagnosis versus sentinel patients with paired serologies or detectional virus or viral antigens,“ but the text offers no explanation.

These flaws are minor considering that recent innovations, such as the use of fibronectin in preterm labor, are discussed and many obstetric controversies are given balanced consideration without being put into a unilateral, unreflected model for the sake of practical guidance.

If practical versus comprehensive is the major conundrum of this manual, a second one is that of obstetric-gynecologic care versus primary care. Presumably the book has been written for professionals who primarily provide obstetric and gynecologic care and also find themselves confronted with other problems that their female patients may bring up at the time of their visits. This purpose is to some extent made clear by the fact that many of the primary care chapters mention what to do with a pregnant patient who presents with the condition described. Most of these conditions are addressed in a fashion just complete enough to give the reader some vocabulary to use to talk to the patient and make the appropriate referrals (the chapters on AIDS and connective tissue diseases are the most egregious in this respect), but other chapters that deal with less complex issues, such as pharyngitis, provide enough information to allow for complete management of the problem.

Nonetheless, whereas the obstetric and gynecologic sections provide remarkably comprehensive and practical information, the primary care portion lags by comparison. The lesson is that it is impossible to cover everything in one specialty in one textbook. However, as a practical obstetrics-gynecology reference manual, this handbook serves the primary care user exceptionally well and is almost as good as a complete text.

Book Reviews

Surviving the Fall: The Personal Journey of an AIDS Doctor

By Peter A. Selwyn. Pp. 145. Price, $20.00. Yale University Press, P.O. Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520-9040, 1998.

I know several family physicians who have chosen to concentrate on caring for persons with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). They are a selfless group who, for a variety of reasons, work to provide comprehensive and supportive care to an often marginalized population. These family physicians work in a clinical realm that is dominated by specifically trained subspecialists. Family physicians often need to be even more competent than the subspecialists in order to gain credibility. Several family physicians have dedicated themselves to caring for persons with AIDS with such vigor, competency and compassion that we all have to admire their tenacity and skills.

Peter A. Selwyn, M.D., trained as a family physician at Montefiore Medical Center, and always cognizant of the comprehensive and empathetic care that characterizes our specialty, is a recognized expert in the management of AIDS. He is well-known to me through his writing in medical journals, including AIDS and the American Journal of Public Health. Surviving the Fall is an extraordinarily well-written and engrossing story of a family physician who has become a specialist in AIDS management for a variety of personal reasons. Beginning with his choice to pursue family practice after medical school, Dr. Selwyn reveals the evolution of his field of interest along with his personal story of self-realization surrounding the trauma of his father's death when he was an infant.

The bulk of the book is a compilation of poignant patient vignettes. The vignettes appear carefully chosen to emphasize the humanistic side of AIDS care and to equate the experiences, so dramatized by AIDS, with life itself. The author's autobiographic evolution is very real and written with honesty and humility.

Dr. Selwyn has much to tell us and does so in only 145 pages. He touches on the relationship between work and family, the honor of being an “engaged witness” to the inner thoughts of our patients, the value of population-based medicine without minimizing the need to individualize care, and the importance of just “being there” for our patients. The third section, called “Excavation,” is a personal and moving account of better understanding the role of his father's death in his own life, revealing that tragedy is a source of empathy, understanding and strength. The further I read of this book, the more I like Dr. Selwyn and hope that I can find some of his characteristics in myself!

Surviving the Fall is written for both medically trained persons and the general reader. Medical terms are defined when needed for the layperson. The writing style is person-to-person and open, keeping the reader engaged and personally involved. The author's humility about himself, his work, his family and the evolution of his personal growth is refreshing and makes the book very difficult to put down. The reader looking for details about the evolution of the AIDS epidemic will need to look elsewhere. Here is a very personal account of one clinician's personal involvement with AIDS and his own past and present.

The foreword, by Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D., a surgeon who spent time working with Dr. Selwyn on the AIDS unit, points out that the author is a unique individual. Having read many books about the AIDS epidemic, I must echo this sentiment. Dr. Selwyn has provided us with a personal story that has meaning for every thinking clinical practitioner. Here is another view of the family physician. The typical model for our specialty has been the clinician who handles every aspect of a variety of patients' problems and does so with understanding and caring. Dr. Selwyn models the family physician who provides comprehensive and empathetic care to a specific population and models our caring approach for the other clinicians with whom he works.

Surely, Dr. Selwyn is a true family physician, and his book reveals much about him, about family practice, about people in medicine, about learning from our patients and about the experience of being a health care provider. I found this book to be powerful reading and I salute Dr. Selwyn for being a unique individual and for sharing this uniqueness with all of us.

Also Received

Blood Clots and Strokes: A Guide for Parents and Little Folks

By Maureen Andrew. Pp. 40. Price, $6.95. Decker, 4 Hughson St. S, P.O. Box 620, LCD1, Hamilton, Ontario, L8N 3K7 Canada, 1998.

Clinician's Handbook of Preventive Services

By the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. Pp. 524. Price, $20.00. Department of Health and Human Services, 2101 E. Jefferson St., Rockville, MD 20852, 1998.

The Complete Guide to Whiplash

By Michael R. Melton. Pp. 108. Price, $29.95. Body-Mind Publications, 7631 Forest Park Dr. NW, Olympia, WA 98502, 1999.

Current Pediatric Therapy

By Frederick D. Burg, Julie R. Ingelfinger, Ellen R. Wald and Richard A. Polin. Pp. 1,344. Price, $98.00. Saunders, Independence Square West, Philadelphia, PA 19106-3399, 1999.

Curriculum Development for Medical Education

By David E. Kern, Patricia A. Thomas, Donna M. Howard and Eric P. Bass. Pp. 180. Price, $45.00. Johns Hopkins Press, 2715 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218, 1998.

De Humanis Corporis Fabrica (CD-ROM)

By Andreas Vesalius. Price, $75.00. Octavo, 394 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301, 1998.

Dying: A Book of Comfort

Edited by Pat McNees. Pp. 331. Price, $13.99. Warner Books, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, 1998.

Environmental and Occupational Medicine

By William N. Rom. Pp. 1,920. Price, $195.00. 3d ed. Lippincott, 227 E. Washington Square, Philadelphia, PA 19106, 1998.

Family Medicine: Principles and Practice

Edited by Robert B. Taylor, Alan K. David, Thomas A. Johnson, Jr., D. Melissa Phillips and Joseph E. Scherger. Pp. 1,191. Price, $130.00. 5th ed. Springer-Verlag, Mercedes 160 Imlay St., Brooklyn, NY 11231, 1998.

The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity

By Roy Porter. Pp. 831. Price, $35.00. Norton & Company, 500 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10110, 1998.

Healing From the Heart

By Mehmet Oz. Pp. 202. Price, $23.95. Dutton, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014, 1998.

The Health Care Professionals Guide to Disease Management

Edited by James B. Couch. Pp. 345. Price, $49.00. Apsen Publishers, 200 Orchard Ridge Dr., Ste. 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20878, 1998.

A Helping Hand: The Resource Guide for People with Cancer

By Cancer Care, Inc. Pp. 140. 2d ed. Cancer Care, Inc., 1180 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, 1998.

Living Longer with Heart Disease: The Non-Invasive Approach That Will Save Your Life

By Howard H. Wayne. Pp. 270. Price, $22.95. Health Information Press, 4727 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010, 1998.

The McDougall Program for Women

By John A. McDougall. Pp. 452. Price, $29.95. Dutton, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014, 1999.

Mosby's GenRx 1998

Price, $69.95. 8th ed. Mosby, 11830 Westline Industrial Dr., St. Louis, MO 63146-3318, 1998.

Neonatal and Pediatic Pulmonary Graphics: Principles and Clinical Applications

Edited by Steven M. Donn. Pp. 427. Price, $85.00. Futura Publishing, 135 Bedford Rd., P.O. Box 418, Armonk, NY 10504-0418, 1998.

The New Arthritis Relief Diet: Proven Steps to Stop Inflammation, Prevent Joint Damage, Decrease Medication and Improve the Quality of Life

By James Scala. Pp. 303. Price, $13.95. Plume, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014, 1998.

The Nine Myths of Aging: Maximizing the Quality of Later Life

By Douglas H. Powell. Pp. 250. Price, $22.95. W.H. Freeman & Company Publishers, 41 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010, 1998.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

By Padmal De Silva and Jack Rachman. Pp. 141. Price, $18.95. 2d ed. Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016, 1998.

Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century

By the Boston Women's Health Book Collective. Price, $21.00. Simon and Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, 1998.

The Power of Hope

By Howard Spiro. Pp. 290. Price, $18.00. Yale University Press, P.O. Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520-9040, 1998.

Prescription for Disaster: The Hidden Dangers in Your Medicine Cabinet

By Thomas J. Moore. Pp. 271. Price, $25.00. Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, 1998.

Primary Care: Balancing Health Needs, Services and Technology

By Barbara Starfield. Pp. 438. Price, $27.50. Oxford University Press, 198 Madion Ave., New York, NY 10016, 1998.

Prospective Payment for Long-Term Care

By Judith J. Baker. Pp. 428. Price, $69.00. Aspen, 200 Orchard Ridge Rd., Ste. 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20878, 1998.

Resumes and Personal Statements for Health Professionals

By James W. Tysinger. Pp. 224. Price, $18.95. Galen Press Ltd., P.O. Box 64400, Tucson, AZ 85728-4400, 1999.

Rewinding Your Biological Clock

By Richard J. Paulson and Judith Sachs. Pp. 338. Price, $23.95. W.H. Freeman, 41 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010, 1998.

Safe Return Home: An Inspirational Book for Caregivers of Alzheimer's

By Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers. Pp. 112. Price, $12.95. Andrews McMeel, 4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111, 1998.

Scientific American Molecular Neurology

Edited by Joseph B. Martin. Pp. 350. Price, $69.00. Scientific American Medicine, 415 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10017-1111, 1998.

Targeting Autism

By Shirley Cohen. Pp. 215. Price, $14.95. University of California Press, 2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94720, 1998.

Walking Out On the Boys

By Francis K. Conley. Pp. 245. Price, $24.00. Von Holtzbrinck Publishing Services, 16365 James Madison Hwy., Gordonsville, VA 22942, 1998.


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