Susan E. Wiegers, Ted Plappert, and Martin St John Sutton
548 pp. London, UK: Martin Dunitz; 2001. $175.00. ISBN 1-853174-723-7*
The book, Echocardiography in Clinical Practice: A Case-Oriented Approach, is described exactly by its title. The book consists of a series of 150 simplified case reports. The organization reflects the flow of blood through the heart, starting with the right heart, and progressing through the pulmonary artery, left atrium, mitral valve, left ventricle, aortic valve and, finally, the aorta. Sections on cardiomyopathies, pericardial disease, and congential disease are also included.
Each case report includes 3 to 6 echocardiographic images, 1 to 2 pages of text, and 2 to 4 key references. The echocardiographic images are predominantly 2D views, but color flow, pulsed, and continuous-wave Doppler are included as appropriate. Both transthoracic and transesophageal images are shown, highlighting the differing utilities of these 2 approaches. The echocardiographic views are highly processed and clearly labeled, making it easy for the reader to understand the images. In addition, detailed figure legends guide the reader through image interpretation. The text correlates the echocardiographic findings with clinical presentation and the implications for therapy, emphasizing the role of the echocardiographer in integrating all the clinical information, not just describing an image. The key references allow the reader to research any given topic in more detail, as prompted by each reader’s training and clinical experience.
This book is not a comprehensive textbook of echocardiography, so most trainees would be well advised to use this book in conjunction with a more standard textbook. The case-oriented approach, however, has great value and serves to complement the didactic information presented in standard textbooks. The case report format allows exposure to a large number of echocardiographic images, with a range and diversity of disease unlikely to be seen by most clinicians except over a period of many years. This exposure to numerous cases accelerates the learning curve for trainees because, having seen a clear image of a disease process, they are likely to recognize the diagnosis in a clinical echocardiographic study.
In my echocardiography laboratory, it was difficult to keep track of the book because both sonographers and fellows would grab it to review a case or two in a spare moment during the day. For those of us with a larger clinical experience, the book was still a “page-turner,” because we eagerly searched for cases we had not yet seen ourselves and compared the images in the book with our own cases. This book will also be of great utility in preparation for examinations. It can be used both as a quick visual review and as a pretest by looking at the images first and then checking the correct diagnosis in the text. All readers will enjoy the challenge of identifying the image on the book’s cover.
In the future, I hope the authors will expand the format to include real-time echocardiographic images in a CD or DVD format. After all, the major limitation of any book about echocardiography is that it is a book. Echocardiography is a dynamic imaging procedure that is best understood by viewing moving images. The static images in a book are often adequate for showing structural abnormalities, such as masses, congenital disease, and effusions, but are less satisfactory for demonstrating functional problems, such as wall motion abnormalities in patients with coronary artery disease. The addition of digital real-time images to accompany the high-quality format and text of this book would be a real gem.
*This book is currently available only from the publisher.