Otolaryngology Cases: The University of Cincinnati Clinical Portfolio

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Review by L Flood
Middlesborough, UK

I really enjoyed this book and was quite determined it would stay in my personal collection for future use. It has considerable novelty value, in presenting brief vignettes, 88 in total, few more than four pages long and all with excellent illustrations. The current publishing trend is to despise the case report; however, this ignores the fact that we learn most of our medical knowledge not from didactic lectures and textbooks but from personal experience of individual patients. We can swot for the exams, but subsequent professional practice will be more influenced by our experience of illness presentation patterns and management successes.

This multi-author text (with authors almost solely from what must be a truly remarkable group, in Cincinnati, Ohio) contains a variety of chapter styles, but all are of high quality. That a petroclival meningioma should merit more pages than Ménière's disease may seem odd, but the story told is unforgettable. (The shame is that the chapter title gives away the plot too early!) Some chapters, like the opening one on congenital hearing loss, would grace any multi-volume textbook; this section is amongst the best writing on this subject I can recall. Some chapters are very superficial, such as that on otosclerosis, but do cover all the key points to guide future reading.

Every chapter opens with a brief history of the patient's presentation. Differential diagnosis, test interpretation (again with excellent reproduction of imaging), management and rehabilitation follow. Three multiple choice questions close each chapter, constituting a useful revision guide.

This book works at many levels. This reviewer, with 35 years' experience of otolaryngology, enjoyed reading it but also felt it would be a marvellous prompt when suddenly asked to give a lecture outside one's ‘comfort zone’. Armed with this text, profound ignorance of lymphangioma management or the role of the uncinate process need be no barrier to speaking with great authority. The end-of-training exam candidate will need the heavier tomes, but this is definitely the book for the train to the College.

Even for the novice or medical student, this book is excellent at illustrating the fascinating range of conditions we are privileged to tackle. It makes our speciality look appealing, and that is why my Year One trainee pleaded for and got my copy. This book, then, attracts the beginner as much as the ‘mature’ practitioner (who will now have to go out and buy his own copy).

This publication is great value. I cannot recall a better book passing through my hands as Book Review Editor. I just wish I still had it! Perhaps I will get a signed copy now?

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