Pocket Atlas of Oral Diseases, 3rd edn

Review by L Flood
Middlesborough, UK

This is the third edition of a book that first appeared two decades ago. The Preface tells us that 40 ‘new diseases’ (a figure I would not doubt) and 1 chapter have been added, and over 95 per cent of the illustrations have been renewed, with what is certainly high quality photography and printing. The updating is interesting in showing how disease processes have evolved. For example, so many oral lesions typical of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, which many of us will recall from the 1980s and 1990s, are now rarely seen, following the advent of antiretroviral treatment. Nice pictures of Kaposi’s sarcoma and hairy leucoplakia now come with text advising that these are almost solely of historic interest.

The oral cavity continues to be of as much relevance to the otolaryngologist as to the dental or oromaxillofacial surgeon or the ‘stomatologist’. It is at least readily accessible and easily visualised, without highly specialised equipment, and does lend itself to the ‘snap diagnosis’. In common with dermatology, years of experience do allow a reasonable chance of disease recognition at a glance. Wisely, every illustration recommends the appropriate further laboratory testing, a differential diagnosis and treatment. There is much fuller coverage of this to be found in the author’s larger book Color Atlas of Oral Diseases: Diagnosis and Treatment (published by Thieme in 2017), but this is the easy reference, pocket-sized handbook version.

As an atlas, the illustrations carry the main message, and these are cleverly grouped according to their macroscopic appearances. So, we get 42 pages of white oral lesions, the same number of pages of red ones, and then black and brown ones. Then comes a series of bullous blistering lesions, of ulcerative disorders, and of tumours, cysts and bone swellings, to name but a few. Lip and tongue problems close the text. There is a brief excursion into neck swellings, which I found less convincing visually, but this is a very minor criticism of what is an excellent reference book.

There are more than a few pictures here that are not to be viewed before lunch, but just as many that are simply unforgettable for the novice. I have never seen erythema multiforme or a verrucous carcinoma so well illustrated. As with many topics here, I do think ‘once seen, never forgotten’. I learnt much. I had no idea cinnamon could do such damage. The nevus of Ota I will surely never encounter, but I will now know it when I see it. I am glad to learn that periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis, pharyngitis and adenitis (‘PFAPA’) syndrome is rare, especially as I am not sure I could distinguish it from simple aphthous ulceration.

It is that kind of book. Every time one flicks through it, one picks up some pearl that could just save the day in a higher examination or salvage one’s reputation with a patient misdirected to ENT from primary care. ‘This is just another case of linear immunoglobulin A disease, surely’, one can confidently pronounce.

This book is highly recommended for the departmental library, and is extremely good value for something so lavishly illustrated.

Amazon Link: Pocket Atlas of Oral Diseases, 3rd edn
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