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Lecture Notes on Respiratory Medicine. 5th Edition.

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Lecture Notes on Respiratory Medicine. 5th Edition.Bourke SJ. (Paperback, 205 pp. £14.95). UK: Blackwell Science, 1998. ISBN 0 632 04968 5.

In the preface to the fifth edition of this book, the author’s stated aim is to provide a summary of current respiratory medicine for the medical student, junior doctors preparing for examinations, and general physicians undertaking continuing medical education.

The first chapter deals with the anatomy and physiology of the respiratory system and the second covers history taking and examination. The chapter on pulmonary function tests includes well annotated examples of spirometric tracings and flow-volume loops. The chapter on radiology includes clear diagrams and radiographs. There is a particularly helpful figure which explains the often confused anatomy of the mediastinum as seen on CT scanning.

The following chapters cover the full range of respiratory conditions. They are short but do not stint on detail. Topics covered include up to date opinion on the aetiology and pathology of asthma, advances in the understanding and treatment of cystic fibrosis, the current global epidemic of tuberculosis, current BTS guidelines on the management of asthma and COPD, and a lucid section on the respiratory manifestations of AIDS. Throughout, the text is supplemented by well laid out tables, graphs, and figures from important papers and generally well reproduced radiographs and CT scans. A feature particularly enjoyed were the numerous (and some humorous) line drawings by R A L Brewis himself, including the memorable “blue bloater and pink puffer” picture on page 117.

In its aim to provide a text book for undergraduates, junior doctors, and general physicians this work succeeds admirably. As an aid to ward and clinic based learning it has the distinct advantage over its predecessor of fitting into the pocket of a white coat (just). Its attention to detail and clarity will make it a useful work for those undertaking postgraduate examinations and those generalists updating their knowledge of the subject.—AM