Collateral Circulation of the Heart
Attempting to summarize and discuss a complex field of biology with respect to both basic mechanistic issues and potential therapeutic significance is a daunting venture. For the most part, such volumes are compendia of chapters by individual scholars with major expertise in a component of the area of study. The book is commonly edited and compiled by one of the contributors, who provides a preface and a chapter in his or her own area of expertise. These volumes often contain well-reasoned and up-to-date presentations that are scientifically state-of-the-art at the time the chapter is written; inevitably, the chapters are at least partially out of date by the time publication occurs. Moreover, they tend to be more of a loosely integrated anthology.
In contrast, an attempt by an individual author to summarize the entire breadth of an important subject requires a great deal more effort; ideally, there should be an unbiased view of the literature compiled by a well-informed author and presented in an informative fashion. Dr Seiler, by his own admission, answered the call to write a book on “functional relevance of the collateral circulation of the heart.” He also presents an alternative motivation that the book “could be sold as the result of my intention to reduce entropy of 18 years of scientific work on the topic of the coronary circulation, which was itself meant to diminish the amount of useless energy.” Dr Seiler has written reviews on this subject in the past, and is clearly very well informed. At the outset, it is important to note that he has succeeded in presenting a broad and unbiased summary of a very complex topic. Although he clearly has his favorites among the scholars who have worked in this field, they are well chosen historically, if not always for the pertinence of their work to the present state of the art. This is, perhaps, one of the most interesting and useful portions of this volume; rarely is it possible to follow advancements in a field in such a logical fashion.
It should be said, however, that such an approach creates an inevitable redundancy; the same topics are revisited with different emphases. This could be somewhat obtrusive to a reader who is well versed in the field, for whom chapters 1, 2, and part of 3 may represent different examinations of the same elephant. As a result, experts in the field will likely not find this volume as valuable as scholars seeking information to apply to and augment their expertise in other areas. The former will more likely go to recent reviews and the latest literature. The latter will find this volume a useful guide to finding information and references required for them to delve more deeply into things of interest.
As in any volume of this type in which detailed and well-organized information is presented, there are areas that are clearly within the author's expertise, and others that are covered in a more general and less specific way. This is, perhaps, inevitable, and results in presentation of information that is outside the author's specific expertise (chapters 4 and 5), where research reports are presented without a great deal of discrimination in regard to their quality or rigor.
Despite these limitations, for someone seeking additional information in this field, this volume focuses important issues associated with arteriogenesis and the collateral circulation and provides an introduction to both the history and progression of thought in this important subject.
Mark L. Entman, MD
Department of Medicine
DeBakey Heart Center
Baylor College of Medicine
Sources of Funding
Dr Entman is supported by NIH grant HL089792 and grants from the Hankamer Foundation and Medallion Foundation.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.