Medicine And Books

Best books on endocrinology: a personal choice

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 29 June 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1681
  1. Jean Ginsburg

    Forty years ago, therapeutic options for the endocrinologist were limited. Patients with thyroid dysfunction were often referred to surgeons, and reproductive endocrinology was not even considered a subspecialty. Scientific respectability came with the development of radioimmunoassay and accurate hormonal assay, and the synthesis of new drugs has revolutionised the attitude of clinicians to such patients.

    Endocrinology has now infiltrated gynaecology, removing not only infertility but disturbances of menstruation, dysmenorrhoea and treatment of the menopause from the gynaecologist, and pushed its tentacles into neurological practice. The ability of bromocriptine to shrink pituitary tumours and the development of octreotide with its multiple inhibitory effects have pioneered medical treatment for many tumours hitherto considered inoperable.


    * Clinical Endocrinology. Ed G M Besser, M G Thorner (£90.) Times Mirror, 1994. ISBN 1 56375 5521.

    ***Endocrinology. 3rd edn. Ed L De Groot. (£346.) Saunders, 1995, ISBN 0 7216 1262 4.

    The scientific and therapeutic explosion has not, unfortunately, been paralleled by adequate choice in reasonably priced textbooks. The cost of the well referenced but weighty multiauthor tomes precludes their purchase by individual doctors. For a library, the best is the three volume Endocrinology; the reference list with each chapter is generally a good start for further reading.

    There is no dispute about the choice for an overall endocrinology textbook—Besser and Thorner's Clinical Endocrinology. This is superbly produced, beautifully illustrated, authoritative, and clearly written. Its only disadvantage is size and weight, which preclude it being carried round for ready reference.

    With the expansion of clinical endocrinology some aspects, however, need a specific textbook.


    * Diseases of the Thyroid: Pathophysiology and Management. Ed Malcolm H Wheeler, John H Lazarus.(£59.) Chapman and Hall, 1994. ISBN 0 412 43030 4).

    ***Werner and Ingbar's The Thyroid. Ed L E Braverman, R D Utiger.(£155.) Lippincott, 1991. ISBN 0 397 51205 8.

    **Thyroid Disease in Clinical Practice. I Ross McDougall. (£65.) Chapman and Hall, 1992. ISBN 0 412 35130 7.

    Thyroid disease, the bread and butter of the endocrinologist, is fully covered in the classic comprehensive multiauthor American textbook Werner and Ingbar's The Thyroid. There is no British counterpart. Diseases of the Thyroid: Pathophysiology and Management is concise with clearly written sections on thyroid physiology and developments in molecular biology.

    Second choice for an affordable clinical text is Thyroid Disease in Clinical Practice. Being a single author book it has better cross referencing. A library would do well to have both books available.


    * The Pituitary. S Melmed. (£120.) Blackwell Science, 1995. ISBN 0 86542 126 9.

    Pituitary disease is fully covered in The Pituitary by S Melmed. There is no compact, user friendly volume on pituitary disease.


    * Osteoporosis. J A Kanis. (£42.50.) Blackwell Science, 1994. ISBN 0 632 03811 X.

    ***Understanding Osteoporosis and its Treatment: A Guide for Physicians and their Patients. G Birdwood. (£32.) Parthenon, 1996. ISBN 1 850 70409 0.

    Osteoporosis is clear, with comprehensive reviews of different treatments, their rationale and effects. Kanis's maxim that “it is never too late to institute pharmacological programmes for the prevention of fractures” should be on every doctor's desk.

    As its title indicates, Understanding Osteoporosis and its Treatment is intended for non-medical readers as well as doctors. Birdwood provides a bibliography for those wishing to go further and a balanced review of menopausal osteoporosis. The illustrations are a delight.

    Reproductive endocrinology

    **The Menopause.(Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism series.) Ed H Burger (£30.) Bailliere, 1993. ISBN 0 7020 1697 7.

    Reproductive endocrinology is poorly served, and a concise physician's manual is needed. Apart from photocopying review articles in journals it is worth keeping a watch on Bailliere's Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism series for specific updates.

    Molecular biology

    *Membrane Surface Receptors. (Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism series.) Ed M C Sheppard, J Franklyn. (£30.) Bailliere Tindall, 1966. ISBN 0 7020 2072 9.

    Among the most important recent advances are those relating to the physiopathology of receptors, particularly surface membrane receptors. Sheppard and Franklin provide a useful update on structure and function, particularly with regard to how hormones such as ACTH and TSH interact with their receptors.


    * Textbook of Diabetes. C Pickup, G Williams. (£145.) Blackwell Scientific, 1991, ISBN 0 632 02594 8.

    ***Chronic Complications of Diabetes. C Pickup, G Williams. (£49.50.) Blackwell Scientific, 1994, ISBN 0 632 03795 4.

    *ABC of Diabetes. 3rd edn. P J Watkins. (£8.95.) BMJ, 1993. ISBN 0 7279 0763 8

    The front runner for clinical diabetic practice is Pickup and Williams's Textbook of Diabetes. The authors have also taken the relevant chapters, updated and expanded as necessary, to form a separate book, Chronic Complications of Diabetes. There is no concise textbook of diabetes comparable to those recommended for the thyroid. ABC of Diabetes, though lightweight, is clear and commendably cheap. Non-specialists should have it at hand for guidance and quick revision.


    *The History of Clinical Endocrinology. C Medvei. (£75.) Parthenon, 1993, ISBN 1 850 70427 9.

    Finally, do consider a luxury to dip into at home, C Medvei's History of Clinical Endocrinology, which is readable and well sourced.—JEAN GINSBURG, honorary consultant endocrinologist, Royal Free Hospital, London

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