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Edited by Ilona S Szer, Yukiko Kimura, Peter N Malleson, Taunton R Southwood. Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, pp 464, £125, (hardback). ISBN 0-19-263292-2
The aim of this book is set out explicitly in the introduction, where several points are made to explain its content and design. Most importantly, it deals just with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and not the whole spectrum of paediatric rheumatological conditions, although it correlates and integrates this wider group of conditions with all those involving joint symptoms.
The authors point out that, contrary to the view that such conditions are rare in childhood, as a group they are one of the commonest serious chronic conditions in children; the conditions are complex, under‐taught and need to be better understood, and management needs to be more evidence‐based. So the authors have set themselves a brief to address these principles in their book.
The editors are from both North America and the UK and the authors of the chapters are from the USA, Canada, the UK, Italy, France and the Netherlands. This is important as the definitions of rheumatological conditions have, for some time, been confused and parochial. However, here the definitions from the International League of Associations for Rheumatism (ILAR) have been chosen so that there is a unified and agreed system of classification, making it now much easier for readers from different countries to understand each other!
The book is set out in three sections: “The approach to the child with musculoskeletal complaints”, “Juvenile idiopathic arthritis” and “The approach to treating JIA”. In 36 chapters the book as a whole covers pathophysiology, clinical syndromes, treatment options and other aspects of management such as educational issues and psychological support, which are crucial to the management of these children.
The information is presented using a large number of superb photographs (including external features, radiographs and MRI scans), highly useful algorithms and diagrams and comprehensive tables, as well as detailed written information. The photographs and algorithms are particularly useful and will be welcomed by anyone struggling to make diagnoses of these sometimes complex conditions. There is a useful discussion of clinical trials and future treatment options.
This book says it is aimed at the paediatric rheumatology fellow, but the detail and format of its content makes it ideal for all paediatricians responsible for investigating and managing children with joint symptoms. It provides a perfect framework for establishing a differential diagnosis and then devising an appropriate management plan. Physiotherapists, occupational therapists and paediatric psychologists would also find some aspects helpful to them.
This book is excellent. It is a superb example of what a modern textbook should be: up to date, evidence‐based, practical and written to be used by clinicians and not just as a reference. While there is increasing competition from web‐based information and guidance, there is still a place for an easily accessible and practical textbook, and one of this design and detail reinforces the view that a good textbook is still an ideal way to support clinical decision making.
There is very little wrong with this book. It is sometimes overwhelming in its detail and, inevitably in a multi‐author book, there is some duplication of information, but it is really designed to be read by individual chapters and not as a whole. There are some topics, such as chronic fatigue and reflex sympathetic dystrophy, that might have been dealt with in more detail ,but that was not the purpose of the book and would have made it even bigger.
Every general paediatric department should buy a copy of this book!