Intended for healthcare professionals


Cardiovascular Medicine: Enhanced Multimedia CD-ROM

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 12 February 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:452
  1. Bernard D Prendergast, specialist registrar in cardiology
  1. Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

    Ed Eric J Topol

    Lippincott Raven, £182.50

    ISBN 0 7817 1681 0

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    As we embrace, with varying enthusiasm, the era of desktop publishing, electronic journals with collaborative online links, and the ubiquity of email and the internet, what role remains for the textbook and, specifically, the electronic mega-text?

    This question is echoed in Professor Topol's preface: “Another textbook in Cardiology—why?” Cardiovascular medicine is a rapidly evolving specialty and has witnessed radical changes in the past decade, with a vast expansion in our knowledge base. Given its heavy dependence on the integration of clinical discipline with scientific advance, the constant impetus of data from latest clinical trials, and use of transmitted images, it would seem ideally suited to presentation using the latest advances in multimedia publishing.

    This CD Rom is an electronic version of the two volume textbook Comprehensive Cardiovascular Medicine, enhanced with video clips of unusual and interesting echocardiograms, angiograms, and nuclear medical investigations, together with 460 supplementary still images, a library of normal and abnormal heart sounds, and copies of recent guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association on the investigation and management of the spectrum of cardiovascular disease.

    The textbook itself is superb and awesome in its depth and scope. More than 100 chapters cover the entire spectrum of cardiovascular science from preventive cardiology to the latest advances in molecular biology.

    As to be expected from the calibre of the large panel of international authors, the text is authoritative, contemporary, well written, and comprehensively referenced—many citations being electronically linked to their Medline abstract. In contrast, the supplementary features provided by computer technology proved disappointing. The library of heart sounds is neither novel nor useful. Although the video and still images reproduce well and provide good teaching material, they are arranged in rather a haphazard order and add little to the already excellent textbook. Furthermore, I encountered problems in accessing the video images because of incompatibility with IBM software.

    In conclusion, other than providing the attractions of portability and speed of reference, electronic technology has failed to substantially enhance an excellent comprehensive textbook. I suspect that many students of cardiovascular medicine will opt for the traditional comforts of their favourite armchair and a solid tome.