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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Sean D. Ruland, DO (University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description: This text describes in traditional fashion derangements in consciousness from the basic principles to specific categories (i.e. structural, inflammatory, and toxic/metabolic) and scenarios and even includes a chapter devoted to ethics.
Purpose: According to the editors, it is intended to update the previous landmark work by Plum and Posner The Diagnosis of Stupor and Coma (FA Davis, 1982) with which most in the field of neurology are so familiar. Etiological, diagnostic, and therapeutic advances since the time of Plum and Posner's work certainly justify the objectives set forth here.
Audience: The book is written at a level that would likely appeal to a broad range of physicians who see patients with altered states of consciousness, not simply neurologists and neurosurgeons. Students, residents, and all but the most seasoned neurointensivists have been targeted, and I feel that the editors have fulfilled their audience's expectations. The editors and contributors are well-renowned and span such specialties as emergency medicine, neurology, neurosurgery, neurocritical care, anesthesia, and even the law for the section on ethics.
Features: The most outstanding feature are the visual aids. There is an impressive supply of diagrams, lists, algorithms, radiographs, and illustrations to enhance the practical understanding of the topics. There are very few stretches of uninterrupted text. The references are up-to-date.
Assessment: This is a worthwhile educational resource. It is difficult to compare this book to such a monumental work such as The Diagnosis of Stupor and Coma, but it certainly brings issues into the technology of modern day. I would recommend this book to those who by interest or necessity have become "students" of brain dysfunction.