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Neurological eponyms
  1. David Perkin

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    Edited by Peter J Koehler, George W Bruyn, and John M S Pearce (Pp 386, £39.50). Published by Oxford University Press, New York, 2000. ISBN 0-19-513366-8

    I enjoyed this book. It is one to delve into rather than to read formally. It appears to have had a rather long gestation since the introduction is dated September 1999. The book is separated into five sections though at times the inclusion of a particular chapter in a particular section seems somewhat arbitrary. The editors have aimed for a uniformity of approach in which a brief historical survey is followed by a resume of the original description and then a setting of that description in a modern context. Inevitably the quality and interest of the contributions vary considerably. The chapters are well illustrated with both portraits of the person and, where relevant, illustrations from original descriptions. In general the editing has been thorough though curiously the chapter on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease ends with a paragraph covering data that had been previously discussed in the middle of the text. Some authors chose not to question the appropriateness of the attribution of a particular syndrome or sign to a particular person; others do so sometimes amusingly as, for example, in the chapter by Bruyn and William Gooddy on Horner's syndrome. There is little to quibble with in terms of the attributions, though why on earth cluster headache is entitled Horton's syndrome is not entirely clear to this reviewer. Although Horton himself had the temerity to suggest that the specific type of headache he described in 1939 had not been described adequately in the literature, he clearly had not read Wilfred Harris's contributions published in Neuritis and neuralgia in 1926 and later in The facial neuralgias in 1937. Harris described virtually all the characteristic features of cluster headache including distribution, periodicity, duration, frequency, presence of conjunctival injection and lacrimation, the sometimes associated Horner's syndrome, and the response to subcutaneous ergotamine. So much for a headache that had not been described adequately in the literature.

    My only concern about this book is that the publishers, who seem now to be publishing as frequently from New York as from Oxford, seem to have acquired a taste for American spelling. Perhaps they need a visit down the road at Oxford to the OED.