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Tuberculosis. W N Rom, S M Garay, eds. (Pp 982). Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1995.

When asked to review this book last year I devised my own “sightation index” to assess its worth to me as a respiratory physician with the responsibility for a tuberculosis service. First a sit down to get acquainted with each other. It is big, attractive, well laid out and easy to grasp, but somewhat let down by the index. The first sections on history and epidemiology are as interesting as aBritish Medical Journal Christmas issue, but potentially more expensive to read in the bath—I enjoyed them. The 28 colour photos are cheerful and useful, except three brown-on-brown immunoperoxidase stains which make the eyelids droop, presumably the reason why photograph 23 of the eye is presented upside down.

During the year it sat on my shelf four colleagues borrowed the book and said it was very useful. My personal “sightation index” was 10, nearly equalling my most popular text book. I scored the usefulness of each sightation on a scale from O (no value) to 3 (excellent). I searched for M szulgai (useful about soft tissue infection and antibiotic sensitivity but little regarding lung infection, score 2/3), how to give BCG in the thigh (nothing, 0/3); management of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (excellent, 3/3), renal tuberculosis (excellent review and helpful discussion of the role of nephrectomy and oral steroids, 3/3); M bovis (good review and references, 3/3); management of BCG complications (subcutaneous abscess not mentioned, vague advice on therapy, 0/3), medical and surgical management of tuberculosis empyema (most useful, 3/3); TB in prisons—sorry, correctional institutions or “tax supported exposure chambers for tuberculosis” (useful but review limited to problem in USA, some unrealistic recommendations, 2/3); advice on standard drug therapy (useful summary of ATS recommendations but not of drug dosages, 2/3); and directly observed therapy (again no summary of intermittent dosages, 2/3).

So the borrow index was 4, my “sightation index” was 10, and usefulness score 66%. That’s pretty good (BCG apart), and I am very pleased to have it available. So should you, if you have an interest in or responsibility for a tuberculosis service.—JTM

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