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By J Valk, F Barkhof and P Scheltens (Pp 353; £129.50). Published by Springer, Heidelberg, 2002. ISBN 3 540 41731 1
This lavishly illustrated book provides a lucid and up to date account of magnetic resonance in the dementias. It is a timely as well as an informative book. Dementia represents an epidemic of staggering proportions for countries with ageing populations: almost 20% of those over the age of 80 years have dementia. Neurologists, psychiatrists, and neuroradiologists will increasingly be involved in the investigation of dementia and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be a key element in that process. Recent European and American guidelines now recommend MRI or computed tomography (CT) at least once in the assessment of all patients with dementia.
In the opening chapters, a succinct summary of the scope of magnetic resonance technology in dementia is provided, including overviews of modern MRI techniques, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and functional imaging. Individual disorders are covered in subsequent chapters, under the broad but appropriate headings of neurodegenerative disorders, disorders primarily affecting white matter, vascular dementias, and miscellaneous dementias. This classification proves to be a useful means of approaching the wide variety of diseases causing dementia, and to have particular relevance in terms of the imaging findings. The authors also strike the right balance between adequately discussing the commoner causes of dementia without neglecting the exotica. The illustrations of the MRI features of some of the less common dementias may be particularly valuable to leaf through when faced with a patient with an unusual scan.
However this book is far from being just an atlas of MR images in dementia. Its strength is that for each disease or condition, the clinical features, pathology, and where appropriate, genetics and treatment options are elegantly and concisely discussed. Even without the illustrations, it therefore proves to be an excellent textbook of dementia. The addition of numerous fantastically reproduced MR images, often accompanied where appropriate by MR spectra and line drawings, make this an invaluable and fascinating textbook for anyone with an interest in either dementia or neuroradiology. The rapid development of the field means this book should appeal to those in training or trained. Furthermore its illustrations are such that it would not seem out of place on your coffee table.
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