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Lung Function Tests: Physiological Principles and Clinical Applications

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Lung Function Tests: Physiological Principles and Clinical Applications J M B Hughes, N B Pride, eds. (Pp 314; £25.00). London: Harcourt Brace, 1999. ISBN 0 7020 2350 7.

This book is a theoretical and practical overview of pulmonary function testing. As such it caters both for clinicians and technicians involved in the gathering of data and its interpretation.

Having evolved from the well renowned Hammersmith Hospital course on Clinical Applications of Pulmonary Function, this volume draws on the experience and expertise of its many contributors. They have successfully developed a textbook that takes its readers from the physiological basis of all aspects of pulmonary function testing, through the mechanical limitations of measurement techniques, aspects of evaluation of breathlessness and breathing control, to the often neglected areas of interpretation and presentation of results. All this is produced in a format made relevant to clinical practice.

The authors adeptly express complex dynamic principles in word form and have supplemented this text with considered, well constructed graphs, tables and illustrative diagrams which underline and clarify the points made. There are frequent highlighted “bullet point” text boxes and succinct chapter conclusions to allow the reader access to clear summaries of the issues discussed in each section.

A section including chapters devoted to the less routine aspects of lung function testing including sleep disordered breathing, paediatric pulmonary function, pulmonary function testing in the intensive care unit, and domiciliary oxygenation and assisted ventilation demonstrates the potential and scope that this field has to offer.

Being accessible and cleverly composed, the text has the potential to be used as a “reference manual” but its editors have steered the emphasis towards promotion of a comprehensive understanding of the theory behind commonly used pulmonary function tests which is where its great strength lies. This should allow readers to develop a pragmatic, efficient approach to the appropriate use of the tests discussed, together with a realistic and clinically applicable basis for the interpretation of their results.

This book comes thoroughly recommended to technicians and respiratory physicians alike, and goes a long way towards revitalising an important area of respiratory medicine which is unfortunately in danger of being overlooked as our attention is taken by newer scientific advances.—ILJ

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