R. W. Culp, S. M. Jacoby (eds) pp. 337 Thorofare: SLACK Incorporated, 2012 ISBN: 978-1-55642-918-7
This is an elegant text, bringing together pearls related to the musculoskeletal examination and imaging of the hand, wrist and elbow. There is certainly a place for a well-written text to address this topic and the key strength of this book is the simple and approachable style in which it is written. This book is edited by Culp and Jacoby and is part of a series of musculoskeletal examination books called Making the complex simple. Overall, it achieves this through carefully worded and clear text matched with excellent images.
The book is structured in three parts. The first section covers the physical examination of the hand, wrist and elbow while the second section covers general imaging of these areas. Both of these sections are strong and form the focus for the book. Unfortunately, more than half of the book is devoted to section 3 covering common conditions of the elbow, wrist and hand. This section covers a number of important topics but the focus of each chapter is not as tight as in the previous sections. The better chapters have clearly focused questions or topics allowing each chapter author to address a clear question or area. The chapter that stands out is the one on ulnar sided wrist pathology written by Min Jung Park and Jeffrey Yao. This looks at a difficult and poorly understood area and presents a simple, practical and anatomy based approach to examination, imaging, diagnosis and treatment. Many of the other chapters, while informatively written and referenced, attempt to tackle much larger and less well targeted topics. Both the simplicity and accessibility of these chapters suffer as a result. In this regard, they read much more like many of the other textbooks that are already available.
The book is just bigger than the pocket of the white coat that used to be allowed but is still small enough to carry in a bag or satchel. It would be well-placed as a ward or clinic based reference or as a book to keep to hand during an upper limb attachment for trainees. Despite some of the weaknesses in section 3, the strengths of the other sections mean that overall this book does succeed in making several complex ideas and problems simple.
R. E. Anakwe