Medicine And Books

Key Topics in Paediatrics

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 18 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:748
  1. R J Harris

    A E M Davies, A L Billson Bios, £22, pp 335 ISBN 1 872748 58 9

    The publication of Key Topics in Paediatrics is timely, coinciding as it does with the first draft of the British Paediatric Association's curriculum for paediatric training in the United Kingdom. The authors, a senior registrar and a lecturer in paediatrics, suggest that it is appropriate for MRCP (paediatric) training.

    The book's format is the same as that of the other “Key Topic” publications. Topics are presented alphabetically, in an easily followed form consisting mainly of aetiology, assessment and investigation, and management. The style is simple and straightforward, and each chapter is concise.

    The preface indicates that the authors are assuming a basic paediatric knowledge. There is little on general approach and history taking, and the book is more geared to an organic approach, even though the relevance of psychosocial paediatrics is mentioned. As an example, the chapter on constipation, even though its subsequent account of management is entirely appropriate, lists several investigations that are thought to be necessary. It is possible that some readers would assume that all are necessary. This would particularly apply to those taking MRCP part 2, who might believe that examiners would be interested only in pathology.

    Most topics on the draft paediatric curriculum are covered, and all chapters have references to recent review articles or further reading. In most cases the book is reasonably up to date, but sometimes it is slightly patchy. For example, no mention is made of recent genetic advances in congenital adrenal hyperplasia or genetic counselling for this condition.

    There are surprising omissions. In the investigation of recurrent urinary tract infections, micturating cystography is advocated up to the age of 5, even though it is stated to be unpleasant, and no mention is made of the indirect isotope assessment of vesicoureteric reflux. There is little mention of the neurodegenerative diseases, which may well be appropriate for a book aimed at candidates for the MRCP, but they are of topical interest because of the role of bone marrow transplantation. Similarly, the place of bone marrow transplantation in thalassaemia syndromes and sickle cell disease is not mentioned.

    Generally, however, I think that the book has achieved its objectives and can be recommended to trainees aiming at taking the MRCP and DCH examinations. I do not think that it would be appropriate for the MRCP part 1, but it certainly would help. Medical students should be cautioned against using this book exclusively, but they too would find it useful. In many ways it is probably easier to read as a revision book; it would also be of use to any member of the ward team for quick reference. However, I would urge candidates for the MRCP not to take quite such an organic oriented approach when facing the examiners.—R J HARRIS, senior lecturer in child health, London Hospital Medical College


    A major problem in developing countries is vesicovaginal fistula after childbirth. Step-by-Step Surgery of Vesicovaginal Fistulas by Kees Waaldijk (Campion Press, £35, ISBN 1 873732 17 1) has well over 100 pictures illustrating the successful repair of a most distressing condition.

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