Book Reviews

Posted in Book Reviews on 14th Sep 2017

Physical Examination of the Spine: 2nd edition

front coverAuthors: Todd J Albert, Alexander R Vaccaro
Published by: Thieme
Price: £48.63, 124 pages
Reviewed by: Canisius Dzapasi, Spinal Specialist Physiotherapy Practitioner, Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK.
Published online: 14/9/17

Physical examination of the Spine by Albert and Vaccaro, in its second edition is an outstanding work that should be useful to any professional involved in the management of spinal conditions. I think the book is likely to be especially for those professionals who have not undergone formal training as spinal surgeons, as a quick reference. Such colleagues might include specialist physiotherapists and nurse practitioners, as well as medics with musculoskeletal/neurological interest. It might also be used to prepare for exams, for medical students or others.

Published by Thieme, it is a compact book (only 124 pages), presented concisely and in an easy-to-follow style. Its logical sequence makes the content easy to understand and remember.

In terms of content, the first chapter (The Fundamentals) provides the basics of spinal examination – anatomy and function. The images are of high quality and provide a lot of information at a glance, and are laid out so as to be useful for quick revision. Sensory and motor testing follows immediately after descriptions of the functional pathways, providing a good perspective. Examination is explained in detail, step by step.

The cervical spine section gives detail on palpation with clear visual aides. This was especially useful from the Physiotherapy standpoint. Conversely, the investigations important in assessing the cervical spine are also presented effectively, backed up with clear images.

The thoracic spine and lumbar spine physical examination chapters provide more detail than might be expected in a book of this size. The examination techniques are explained with pictures, which represent a good guide for positioning and handling.

At £48.63, the book is expensive for its size, though the high price is justified on the basis of its high quality content.


Synopsis of Spine Surgery: 3rd Edition

front coverAuthors: Howard S An, Kern Singh
Published by: Thieme
Price: £71.99, 316 pages
ISBN: 1626230307
Reviewed by: Ms Maggie K Lee, Clinical Fellow in Neurosurgery, Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK.
Published online: 14/9/17

This is the 3rd edition by An and Singh. As per previous editions, it is well structured and concise. It contains information alike for novices in Spinal Surgery and for experts.

The aim of this book is exactly ‘what it says on the tin’, to offer the reader a comprehensive review of spinal diseases and conditions. Its layout is logical and leads the reader on a journey through the management of spinal pathology, beginning with anatomy, basic principles, physical examination, investigations, non-surgical management and surgery. All this, with many illustrations, radiological images and useful tables included.

It is packed with facts, without much narrative, which makes it a valuable resource of reference. The suggested reading list at the end of each chapter is a useful addition, although some of the references are not very up to date.

On the down side, the quality of reproduction of MRI images and clinical photographs is quite poor. And, although there is a legend for each image, more comprehensive labelling of these images would have been beneficial. And there are some labelling errors, in Chapter 10 (where the cervical spine level is mis-labelled) and in Chapter 14.

Overall, this book is one of the best in its class, and a ‘must have’ for students and trainees embarking on serious exploration of Spinal Surgery.

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