Otorhinolaryngology: An Illustrated History

Review by L Flood
Middlesborough, UK

To produce a second expanded edition of the history of our specialty presents the authors with a challenge.  They could have relied on the passage of the millennia to provide extra content, or instead delved further into the existing archives. Only 23 years after the first edition, this book fortunately follows the latter strategy,and referenced it truly is. The chapter on the twentieth century finishes with a bibliography of no fewer than 584 references! These two authors have long made a remarkable contribution to the preservation of the history of ENT surgery and have not been complacent in preparing this update.The original hardback still graces my bookshelf for comparison. This softer-covered text is significantly expanded to 356 pages, with 150 illustrations. The title shows a subtle change: it now includes ‘rhino’, a concession to a sub-specialty now thought by many a respectable pursuit. The illustrated content is transformed and does include some memorable favourites. Page 284 shows ‘the’ Joseph tackling a rhinoplasty, where the need for reduction is unquestioned. In a group in which facial hair seems de rigueur, De Rossisports some quite formidable whiskers. Early surgical instruments make one grateful for twenty-first century technology, but truly ‘there is nothing new under Heaven’. An attempt at a laryngeal stroboscope from 1878, or the ‘dentaphone’, a bone conducting hearing aid from the 1880s, attached to the teeth, long anticipate what we consider to be ‘recent advances’. A favourite chapter, and surely an international selling point, is that recording various countries’ contribution to progress in ENT practice. This well researched chapter starts with Europe’s role, working alphabetically from Austria to Turkey. It then moves on to our transatlantic cousins and finally to the Far East and Australasia. A nice addendum lists national ENT societies and journals, according to their year of foundation. This chapter has something for everyone,from Estonia to Thailand, and will appeal worldwide.  All ‘history’ of course stops in the early 60s, and it will take a third edition to read more of Harrison, Stell or Fisch. If only to finally put a human face to the eponyms – Gradenigo, Citelli, Tilley or Luc – it is enlightening to see these people in context. The day may yet come when trainees will complain their Hawthorne’s does not work, they have dropped their Bradley’s or they need a curved Lund (which actually conjures a much better image). This book proved a God send to me in finishing off my review of Ménière’s disease, as seen in the JLO Archives. Much seeking of references has been saved. It is a very readable book and excellent value.  Remember the saying about ‘shoulders of giants’; these are those very folk.

Amazon Link: Otorhinolaryngology: An Illustrated History
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