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Wolff's Headache and Other Head Pain, 7th edn.
  1. Richard Peatfield

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    Edited by S D Silberstein, R B Lipton, D J Dalessio (Pp 625, US$99.00). Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001. ISBN 0195135180

    There can be few people still alive who came under the direct influence of Harold G Wolff before his death in 1962 (Donald Dalessio being one), but his influence on the whole of neurology has been immense and still continues. His book soon became a classic—the two editions he wrote himself are now acquired only with difficulty from antiquarian booksellers. Over the years it has become slowly transformed, though perhaps some intermediate editions were a less satisfactory hybrid between the master and later developments. “Wolff's Headache” has now emerged as a fully fledged multiauthor text in its own right, with less emphasis on the master's own experimental work. We now have a 600 page authoritative book, written largely by American authors, all clearly experienced clinicians. It is comprehensive and yet more manageable than its main competitors.

    In the first 100 pages the classification, anatomy, pathophysiology, genetics, and epidemiology of headache are covered, with discussion of imaging techniques and comorbidity with other diseases. The core of the book covers migraine, cluster headaches, and tension headaches, including a very comprehensive review of every drug that has ever been used to treat headache, including the obscure, the ineffective, and the promising. This section is also strong on the classification of chronic headache syndromes and in discussing analgesic abuse. The third section discusses every conceivable structural cause of headache, including high and low CSF pressure, metabolic disease, and disorders of the neck, eyes, teeth, nose, and blood vessels, including all the classic citations. The final three chapters discuss headache in children, behavioural management, and the consultation process itself.

    This is an outstanding book; little of significance is omitted, and yet one is not overwhelmed with details. No doubt with the trainee entering the field in mind, it is particularly good when reviewing the literature, though some authors do occasionally lapse into uncritical catalogues of older papers. It will prove to be a useful reference text for more senior neurologists confronted with a difficult patient, both for diagnostic and therapeutic options, though these are perhaps more from an American viewpoint.

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