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Arch Dis Child. 2007 June; 92(6): 562–563.
PMCID: PMC2066172

Kendig's disorders of the respiratory tract in children, 7th edition

Reviewed by Tom Hilliard

Edited by V Chernick, T F Boat, R W Wilmott, A Bush. Published by Elsevier Saunders, 2006, £183 (hardback), pp 1136. ISBN 13 978-0-7216-3695-5

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In the preface to this 7th edition, the four editors describe Kendig's disorders of the respiratory tract in children as the bible of paediatric pulmonology. Edwin L Kendig, Jr was a pioneering paediatric pulmonologist in Virginia and the first editor of this textbook. This edition is dedicated to his memory. It represents a major revision since the 6th edition in 1998 with over 120 authors contributing to 74 chapters over almost 1000 pages. The structure of the book is good. It starts with general considerations, such as development, physiology and investigations, and subsequent sections are set in a logical order, with problems in the newborn followed by infectious and then non‐infectious disorders. There are separate sections on asthma and cystic fibrosis, and there is a final treatment on what's left, including sleep disordered breathing. The authors are largely from North America and the UK and represent a solidly respected body of opinion. The chapters tend to be short, with readable, well‐referenced text and a fair mixture of good illustrations.

I read up on several of the children that we had in our service in the past couple of weeks. We had a child with as yet unexplained interstitial lung disease; the chapter on ILD was a concise but superb 10 pages, written by international experts in the field and right up to date. An infant had presented with increased work of breathing from birth, and tracheomalacia had been found on flexible bronchoscopy. The section on tracheomalacia was again succinct and pragmatic. The chapter on bronchoscopy is by the undisputed king of this investigation, and there was a nice section on interpretation of bronchoalveolar lavage. We had a teenager with a pleural effusion from likely auto‐immune disease; there was a solid 23 page chapter on pulmonary involvement in rheumatic disorders. I was therefore very quickly sold on this book – I had confidence that it would deliver what I needed to know and point to further reading.

Sometimes a large specialist textbook like this is not so good on more common conditions, especially where a clear and pragmatic guide is needed. There are five chapters in the section on asthma, and in fact the advice on the management of chronic and acute asthma was still pretty good. Although more accessible guidance on acute severe asthma might be found elsewhere, it did give brief up‐to‐date reviews of the use of intravenous bronchodilators and magnesium sulphate. However, this is not what this book is primarily for; its real strength is the ability to provide highly readable but comprehensive information on the whole range of paediatric respiratory problems.

I am going to keep this book right on my desk. I would consider it the best textbook in paediatric respiratory medicine and therefore a vital resource for specialist paediatric pulmonologists, trainees and paediatricians with an interest in respiratory medicine. While I don't think I can recommend to our trainees that they should keep it by their bed and read a daily passage, this is as close to a bible as it gets….

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