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Year book of neurology and neurosurgery 2003
  1. M Donaghy

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    Edited by Scott R Gibbs and Ashok Verma. Published by Mosby, Philadelphia, 2003, pp 337, £73.99 (hardback). ISBN 0-323-02058-5

    Every year, countless journals publish myriad neurology and neurosurgery papers. There is immense attraction in the notion of a single volume yearbook that selects and comments upon the best. So, how well does the Yearbook of neurology and neurosurgery succeed in informing about significant advances in knowledge outside my own subspecialty area for 2003? The editors draw their selection from a survey of 500 journals, with something from most of those with big impact. Thirty seven associate editors assisted by reviewing the various subspecialty areas; of these all except 11 come from North America, of whom 9 are neurosurgeons rather than neurologists, an intriguing imbalance.

    Papers selected cover every conceivable subspecialty, and sometimes the inconceivable. New gene mutations abound, illuminating case histories are provided, we learn that the visual cortex is hyper-excitable in migraineurs, and about informed consent in neurosurgery, and we are treated to pictures of new cranial remodelling devices for treating craniosynostosis. To provide a critical review of such a diversity of subject matter would be an impossibility. All one can do is to congratulate the editors for highlighting a selection of topics that opens one’s eyes to the dazzling diversity of our specialty. Nevertheless, you would not go to a yearbook for a comprehensive review of developments in a particular subspecialty. Therefore, this is essentially armchair reading, and none the less useful for that.

    Each article is summarised in half a page or so under the headings introduction (or background), methods, results, and conclusion. This is followed by a brief editorial comment, often interesting and pithy. At least some of this signed editorial comment is derived verbatim, or with only minor paraphrasing, from editorial comment in the journal originally publishing the chosen paper.1 So whose opinion are you really reading in the yearbook?

    Although interestingly informative outside one’s subspecialty, one does need to ask whether the concept of a single volume yearbook isn’t becoming submerged by the sheer volume of potentially eligible papers published each year. And, although this 2003 yearbook arrived on my desk in December 2003, it predominantly covers papers published in 2001, with some from early 2002, and an occasional hangover from 2000. So, it isn’t that up to date. I guess libraries will buy it, partly out of habit. But for individuals, £74 is a steep price for neurological coffee table reading.

    Edited by Scott R Gibbs and Ashok Verma. Published by Mosby, Philadelphia, 2003, pp 337, £73.99 (hardback). ISBN 0-323-02058-5

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