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To the MRCP candidate neurology is one of the more daunting specialties. The unfamiliar nerve conduction study and the frankly mysterious EEG can distress an otherwise well rounded senior house officer. Despite the fact that much of neurology is commonly seen on a general medical ward—strokes, dementias and so forth—the general perception is of an unimaginable list of eponymous syndromes and obscure signs. Rather than dwell on the last, in this book Dr Smith tries to address the commoner complaints as examination style questions each with a “simple clinical lesson”. The “grey case” section, for instance, includes questions on multiple sclerosis, cluster headache, and HSV encephalitis, while broadening the topics to include postinfective demyelination, chronic hemicrania, and acute haemorrhagic encephalomyelitis. There is, however, a tendency for the discussion after each question to be rather brief. A fuller explanation, with more allowance for the reader’s ignorance, would have been appreciated. The data interpretation section is somewhat better, covering CSF, EEG, and other data extremely well. Perhaps a little too well; would an MRCP candidate really be expected to recognise the characteristic EEG of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease? I surely hope not. Finally, the slide tests are disappointing. If anything, neurology lends itself best to this section of the written examination but it is let down by the poor quality of some of the images in this book. This is especially unfortunate, as other images in the same section are remarkably impressive. The Sturge-Weber skull radiograph and central pontine myelinolysis MRI are beautiful. In summary, this is a creditable first edition. I look forward to the second.
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