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Neonatology, a Practical Guide.
  1. IAN DADY, Consultant paediatrician
  1. Queens Park Hospital, Blackburn

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    Neonatology, a Practical Guide. 4th Edn. Edited by Alistair GS Philip WB Saunders Company, 1996 ISBN 0-7216-4776-6

    The transition from undergraduate paediatrics to the highly technical and rapidly developing arena of neonatology is a daunting prospect for junior doctors. A pocket handbook may provide some small comfort. Such a “survival guide” for SHOs should be compact, well structured, and visually attractive. Unfortunately, this updated fourth edition fails to satisfy these criteria.

    It aims to incorporate new knowledge and developments into an overview of important neonatal topics. This is largely achieved, and a list of references for each subject provides further reading. The author explains that he is unable to provide all the answers in this work, but it is disappointing that some exciting advances, such as ECMO and the understanding of nitric oxide physiology, merit no more than a passing mention.

    This book claims to be a “practical guide” but includes some rather unexpected chapters. The lists of historical milestones in neonatal practice are fascinating, but far from practical. Other chapters include multiple choice questions and a pictorial quiz to test a range of abilities. Unfortunately, this enjoyable section is ruined by the poor quality of photographic reproduction.

    There is a good deal of valuable information in this book: the author’s experience is apparent and his views balanced, but it is not a concise text. I spent 15 minutes searching unsuccessfully for details of the treatment of adrenal failure; the section on therapeutic technique does not give details of how to insert a chest drain; the pharomacopoeia does not list amphotericin.

    This book may have a niche as an introductory text, but it needs a more accessible structure; greater detail on practical management; and illustrative colour diagrams, flow charts and tables. Until then, it is likely to gather dust on the shelves of the bookshop.