Total Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Review by V Veer
Newcastle upon Tyne

My first impression of this solid 1000+ page book was a good one.  Well bound, good quality paper, full colour and wrapped up in the familiar Thieme blue-silver motif.  Being named ‘Total’, one would assume that it is a book that is competing with the famous reference texts, such as Scott Brown, Cummings etc.  Then you consider how small it is compared to these much loved works, the next thought would be that this must be an exam revision book?  The preface makes that case that consultants wishing to stay informed, in topics outside of their chosen subspecialty, can use this book to brush up their knowledge. 

It certainly does provide the standard facts one would expect, and the authors seem to have managed to condense a lot of topics into a relatively small volume.  The consequence of this, however, is that certain compromises needed to be made.  If you were to compare this text to reference texts, one can immediately see that the depth of information just isn’t achievable.  The authors have been diligent to make the prose as concise as possible, but a focus on management isn’t maintained on every topic.  This is especially true of the paucity of surgical steps described, which, inevitably, means that this work is more a clinical than a surgical text book.  The limitation on space also means that nuances in management cannot be described in detail; the broad facts are provided, rather than useful tips one would see in, for example, Peter Bull’s Paediatric ENT Book.  I would suggest this text to be more akin to looking something up on Wikipedia, and I think this is the point of this publication.  It can be used as a quick reference book, for those who prefer not to ‘Google it’.  I would also suggest that this is a reasonable book for exam revision, as well.  Granted, it is bigger than your standard revision text, but it is more manageable than a reference text to plough through.  The prose doesn’t contain references for the evidence for each statement and, so, using it for viva examinations isn’t completely possible, but it would be better for written examinations.

This has been a difficult book to review, as it sits in a rather narrow gap in the market.  There is very little to compare it to, and my observations have been necessarily based on comparisons, which aren’t altogether adequate.  My advice therefore is to ignore what I have said, pick up the book yourself and flick through it!

Amazon Link: Total Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
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