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Diseases of the Pituitary.

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    Diseases of the Pituitary. Edited bymargaret e wierman. (Pp 405; $125.00). New Jersey: Humana Press, 1997. ISBN 0-896-03364-3.

    For the discerning reader who wishes to know more than just the simple facts regarding the normal function of the pituitary gland and the pathophysiology which can affect it, this book offers a very readable starting point. Despite its relatively small size, the pituitary is an extremely important player in the endocrine team and a wide array of clinical features can arise from its dysfunction. Not surprisingly, traditional textbooks often approach this field in one of two ways, either as a brief overview of the salient facts, or as a comprehensive reference. Comprehensive references are usually bulky and seen as places to look when faced with a particular clinical problem.

    Diseases of the Pituitary is different however, in that it attempts to combine comprehensiveness within a readable size and style. The book begins with an up to date explanation of the ontogeny of pituitary cell types and explains how recent advances in molecular biology have considerably enhanced our understanding in this area, as well as elucidating the mechanisms underlying various human syndromes arising from aberrant development. After covering the broader topic of hypopituitarism, subsequent chapters review the normal physiology and pathology of each of the anterior pituitary hormones. Although the chapters have been written by one or more experts in each field, the editor has managed to retain a unified style throughout. Of particular note is the structured approach to the diagnosis and treatment of pituitary deficiency or excess in which the authors discuss current practices and recent developments in such a way as to guide the clinician, but without trying to impose set rules or regimes. Furthermore, the text is clearly and extensively referenced and encourages the more inquisitive among us to seek out the original literature, especially in those areas where a consensus opinion is lacking. The book concludes with useful chapters covering radiological, surgical, and immunohistochemical aspects of pituitary disease.

    The one feature of the book that would benefit from change is its illustration. In several places I think that an additional figure would aid description, or that a colour plate would have been more appropriate. This is especially true in the section on immunohistochemistry. However, this does not detract greatly from a book that should be recommended to anybody with more than a passing interest in the pituitary gland.