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Gut. 2007 September; 56(9): 1332.
PMCID: PMC1954972

Fast Facts: Inflammatory Bowel Disease, 2nd ed

Reviewed by Marc Ferrante

Edited by David S Rampton, Fergus Shanahan. Abingdon: Health Press Limited, 2006, £15.00 (softcover), pp 134. ISBN 1-903734-55-X

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) comprises two major chronic relapsing and remitting disorders: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Both diseases often affect relatively young patients and may have great influence on the rest of their lives. Despite recent progress in medical therapy, the majority of patients with Crohn's disease will eventually develop complications, including fistulas or strictures, necessitating surgery. Approximately 30% of patients with ulcerative colitis will have to undergo a proctocolectomy for intractable disease or dysplasia.

Over recent decades, the incidence of IBD has been steadily increasing. Today, it is estimated that 1 in every 500 people in western Europe and North America has IBD. Because of the high prevalence and the wide‐ranging effects of IBD, a broad range of doctors and healthcare providers will be consulted by patients with IBD. Furthermore, a good understanding of the disease, its possible complications, and the benefits and side‐effects of the available therapy, is not only crucial for patients themselves, but also for their relatives and society as a whole.

In this second edition of Fast facts: inflammatory bowel disease, David S Rampton (London, UK) and Fergus Shanahan (Cork, Ireland) outline several important topics related to IBD. Throughout 134 pages, the authors deal with the aetiopathogenesis of IBD, its clinical features and possible complications, making the diagnosis, and the available drugs, medical management, surgical aspects, concerns about pregnancy and prognosis.

In 2006, this easy‐to‐read manuscript was awarded with the first prize in the gastroenterology category at the British Medical Association Medical Book Awards. There are, however, a few caveats. Although this Fast facts does not claim to be a book of reference, the authors could have given more details on topics such as pregnancy and lactation, indeterminate colitis, cancer surveillance programmes, regulatory T‐cells, defensins and future targets of therapy. The topic on management of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis could be improved by adding a treatment algorithm: when to start which therapy, and when to seek another medical therapy or to opt for surgery.

In our opinion, the typical Gut reader will not find much novel information in this concise booklet, which was published >16 months ago. I totally agree with the authors' statement that this book is meant for primary‐care physicians, trainees, medical students, nurses, stoma therapists, dieticians, psychologists, counsellors, social workers and patients. However, this book is not really a must‐have for gastroenterologists. Therefore, I would like to suggest the Gut reader to buy this award‐winning booklet and give it as a present to the hard‐working trainees in their department, or suggest it to patients who ask for more information.

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