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Detlev Uhlenbrock Thieme: Stuttgart. 2004 518 pp. $149.00 3-13-130941-5.
MR Imaging of the Spine and Spinal Cord, by Detlev Uhlenbrock, a professor in the Department of Radiology at St. Josef Hospital in Dortmund, Germany, was originally written in German and has been translated into English by Grahame Larkin. The material in this book is current as of the fall of 2003.
This work is intended for radiologists whose primary focus is neuroradiology, especially in the diagnosis of disorders of the spine. Other potential readers who might find this book useful include neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons who are spine specialists, physicians in training in these specialties, emergency room physicians and their trainees, trauma surgeons, and allied health care professionals such as physical assistants, nurses, and nurse practitioners working in the neurosurgical or orthopedic spinal surgery fields. The book provides an overview of magnetic resonance imaging technology and includes several helpful guidelines on the different types of imaging sequences that may be obtained for the diagnosis of spinal disorders.
The book is well organized and includes references and summary pages at the end of every chapter. It begins with an overview of the physics of MR imaging, a topic that is often confusing for most health care professionals who are not MR-specialized radiologists. However, the physics of MR imaging is explained extremely well and in a simple form that the general health care audience can easily understand. While the chapter is not inundated with mathematical detail, it sufficiently illustrates mathematical principles that are involved in generating an MR image. Chapter 2 provides guidance exclusively for surgeons and delineates how they might use this book as a quick reference in clinical decision making. Ensuing chapters address different types of pathology of the spine, including degenerative disk disease, other degenerative conditions of the spine, congenital abnormalities of various types, spinal tumors, infections of the spine, and vascular disorders of the spine. The last chapter illustrates functional MR and intraoperative MR imaging as a guide to spinal surgery.
I am especially impressed with the clarity of the written word in this book. Although it was initially written in German, the quality of the translation is to be commended. The vocabulary is simple, direct, and highly readable.
One of the book’s strongest points is the abundance of illustrations that illuminate every part of the text, in total, a collection of more than 1300 images. The author and his collaborators have diligently portrayed “classic” images of each condition described. In several instances, multiple images illustrate the same problem from different standpoints. Especially outstanding are the chapters on spinal tumors and spinal vascular malformations. The schematic diagrams in the chapter on embryology and the dermatomal and myotome diagram in the chapter on degenerative spine disease are comprehensive in scope yet easy to understand.
A useful feature of the book for practicing physicians, especially those of the surgical specialties, is the multitude of problem-solving tips, which provide details of various imaging techniques, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of different MR sequences. I find this particularly useful, since many institutions and hospitals have different imaging protocols, and a knowledge of specific imaging techniques and their advantages and disadvantages may serve to standardize image acquisition protocols and to provide the most appropriate information from a given scan for a patient. In this matter, reference to and perusal of this book will thus greatly contribute to refining and standardizing protocols in various institutions.
In summary, I highly recommend MR Imaging of the Spine and Spinal Cord for various subspecialty health care providers, including neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, neuroradiologists, trauma surgeons, and emergency room physicians, as well as allied health care professionals. The summaries at the end of every chapter are well designed and provide quick and easy access to the most current MR imaging information. With its repertoire of illustrations, both photographic and schematic, this book certainly merits a place as a standard reference for evaluating MR imaging of the spine and spinal cord in patients.