Stell & Maran’s Textbook of Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology, 5th edn

Review by W-Y Yang
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

After a long wait, the highly anticipated fifth edition of

Stell & Maran’s Textbook of Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology has finally arrived – and as the expression goes, it is a bigger and better book than its predecessor. I am certainly not lying when I say ‘bigger’ – compared with 520 pages for the fourth edition, the fifth edition certainly has gone through a massive expansion, to 1156 pages.

While all the other sections have bulked up to some degree, the biggest expansion in volume comes from the endocrine diseases section, with even a separate chapter on pituitary tumours! However, it is really the coverage of thyroid disease that takes up most of the endocrine section, with its own molecular biology and imaging chapters. These are separate from the chapters with the same theme in the ‘Introduction to Head and Neck Surgery’ section. Everything from pathology to management is illustrated with an amazing amount of detail. You could almost call the endocrine diseases section a small book in its own right.

Overall, the entire book is well organised, like its predecessor, with plenty of colourful pictures, diagrams, tables, and summary and key point boxes. The fifth edition follows the same structural format as the fourth, with its chapters divided into benign and malignant disorders according to anatomical site, augmented with introduction and reconstruction sections. I found the book easy to read. Instead of quoting study after study to satisfy the demands of evidence-based medicine, like some other textbooks, Stell and Maran do this more discreetly, instead offering a ‘key evidence’ box at the end of each chapter. Another feature I found particularly helpful is that each chapter lays out the ‘philosophy of treatment’ before it goes into the specifics of the management of each disorder, so that the reader can construct a useful ‘scaffold’ on which to base their knowledge.

Many operations are described in the book in great detail, some more so than others. Obviously, as the book is not geared up to be an operative manual, it does not provide the same degree of detail or as many illustrations as a manual would. However, it is enough to give the reader a fair idea and a good insight into many procedures.

The content of the book is fully up to date. Recent advances in head and neck surgery are included, such as cetuximab, robotic surgery and new developments in molecular biology, as well as more practical changes, like the role of PET-CT scanning in the management algorithm, increasing use of selective neck dissection in node-positive disease, and the latest UICC TNM staging.

Finally, the publishers of Stell and Maran have embraced the age of the ubiquitous Internet, like everyone else. They provide three different ebook options: a downloadable ebook for offline reading, web access and an I-Pad version. Unfortunately, the URL address for downloading would not work for me, and I have not jumped on the I-Pad bandwagon just yet. The remaining option – web access – does work, but the server speed is not great and I must confess that I am not a big fan of the online ebook interface or presentation, especially having seen the beautiful quality of the hard copy.

In conclusion, the fifth edition of Stell & Maran’s Textbook of Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology is a great reference for head and neck surgery, and I thoroughly recommend it for any trainees interested in the field.

Amazon Link: Stell & Maran’s Textbook of Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology, 5th edn
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