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Spinal Cord Disease. Basic Science, Diagnosis and Management

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    Spinal Cord Disease. Basic Science, Diagnosis and Management. Edited by edmund critchley and andrew eisen. (Pp 606; DM 228). Published by Springer- Verlag, Heidelberg, 1997. ISBN 3-540-19935-7.

    This book is a comprehensive account of the current state of knowledge and practice of spinal cord disease. It is a multiauthor book, is well illustrated and referenced, and the bibliography is comprehensive. By their very nature, multiauthor books run the risk of repetition but editorial control has clearly kept this to a minimum. Nevertheless the inquisitive reader may find that he has to consult several chapters to extract all available information on a particular topic.

    The book has chapters on anatomy, neuropathology, spinal electrophysiology, and clinical features of spinal cord disease but they are scattered throughout the first half of the book, which runs, in total, to 600 pages. By preference I would have put these chapters at the beginning, to set the scene for the numerous and comprehensive accounts of spinal cord disease which follow. In all, there are 32 chapters covering such diverse problems as decompression sickness, spinal cord repair after injury, and psychosexual aspects of spinal cord disease. The “bread and butter” of neurological practice, spinal cord compression in all its guises, is well dealt with. I found some of the chapters rather short—perhaps the five page chapter on hazards of lumbar puncture could, for example, have been incorporated into a larger chapter on the investigation of spinal cord disease. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on spinal tumours and degenerative disease. The chapter on clinical features of spinal cord disease was, in general, a good account although I am not sure that I would agree with the assertion that astereognosis and graphaesthesia are signs of posterior column disease.

    As well as exercising control over errors of duplication, editors of multiauthor books need to police contributions for errors of omission, which in some ways is a more difficult task. For the most part the authors are to be congratulated on their success in this regard although there are some topics which I would have liked to see covered more fully. Radiation myelopathy, for example, is dealt with under pathology but not any of the clinical chapters and more discussion on interneuronitis and its aetiology would have been useful. In fact, given the breadth of topics this book deals with, I am a little surprised that neuroimmunology does not have a chapter to itself.

    My criticisms are minor. This is a useful book for the practising clinical neurologist and would be a welcome addition to any departmental library.