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Eds M C Hochberg, A J Silman, J S Smolen, M E Weinblatt, M H Weisman (pp 2282, £255) Mosby, 2003. ISBN 0-3230-24041.
It is a particular challenge to present a new edition of a textbook that has been praised as the “model for other textbooks” and “a departure from everything that has preceded it”. The new international team of editors of Rheumatology has accepted this task and has succeeded brilliantly. The third edition of Rheumatology is an admirable Reference that brings together comprehensive, up to date coverage, more than 1600 full colour photographs, tables and charts, and practical clinical guidance for the practising and academic rheumatologist and arthritis related healthcare professional in a well organised, highly visual format. It is consistent in content, style, and format, and colour coded sections add to its easy and enjoyable use.
Almost 300 international experts, many of them new in the author team, have contributed to this edition. They represent the entire spectrum of clinical and academic rheumatology and of biomedical, clinical, and epidemiological research. Acknowledging the immense progress in the treatment of rheumatic disease over recent years, the authors have extensively revised the section on principles of therapy and the introductory section. Almost half of the chapters have been completely rewritten and 58 chapters have been added. Essential new information is provided on basic biomedical science, clinical therapeutics, disease and outcome measurement, and patient management and rehabilitation. There is a strong focus on evidence based medicine throughout, and increased importance is given to non-drug treatment, bone disorders, management of paediatric and geriatric patients, orthopaedics, and the latest pain management techniques. In summary, these two volumes are an exquisite textbook, a reference book for the clinical rheumatologist as well as for the general practitioner, and, again, an admirable “model for other textbooks”.
A standard textbook of 2003 would not suffice, however, if it did not make use of modern technology to improve its teaching and educational opportunities, its accessibility, and its up to date relevance. Needless to say, the third edition of Rheumatology is a true “e-dition”. It includes a CD ROM with more than 3000 images and tables that can be downloaded into Powerpoint presentations. The CD ROM also serves as the launch pad for a fully searchable website that contains the entire content of the book and downloadable images. Other valuable features of the state of the art website include frequent updates to the content of the book, outcome measurements and self testing tools, patient information material, and additional images as well as videos of injection techniques. The electronic material complements the book in a most valuable manner.
There are only a few minor weak points that should be mentioned, although they do not detract from the overall value of the book. The index is comprehensive but, despite the hard work that has been carried out to improve it, still sometimes presents difficulties for the reader. Referencing is correct but the many levels below the individual main alphabetical subjects make finding the correct subject a challenge. The self assessment centre contains questions that cannot be answered correctly, as the software does not permit selection of more than one answer even if the text in the question stated that more than one answer was correct. Finally, after going through questions of several sections, the program may quit unexpectedly, requiring a restart of the section.
The third edition of Rheumatology is excellent value, a beautiful addition to any medical library, and the true Reference for the rheumatologist, the arthritis related healthcare professional, and the basic scientist, and all of us who are interested in disorders of the musculoskeletal system.