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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Valerie L. Ng, PhD MD(Alameda County Medical Center/Highland Hospital)
Description: This is the third edition of this spiral-bound pocket guide to diagnostic tests last updated in 2010.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a "practical reference for ordering tests." This is a worthy objective, which this book meets reasonably well, given the size constraints of a pocket guide.
Audience: It is intended for "medical students, interns, residents, practicing physicians and other healthcare personnel who deal with laboratory testing and diagnostic imaging in their daily work." This is a broad audience and the author is correct in that the book will have wide appeal.
Features: True to the previous editions, this guide addresses most things you might want to know about laboratory testing or diagnostic imaging. The book is divided into three sections: common diagnostic imaging tests, laboratory tests, and diagnostic algorithms integrating both imaging studies and laboratory testing. Diagnostic imaging runs the gamut from x-rays to CT to MRI to ultrasound to PET-CT. (I don't know enough about diagnostic imaging to comment on this section.) Laboratory testing covers over 300 tests, with each test description following a standardized format (reference range, common abnormalities, and causes of an abnormal result). The diagnostic algorithms cover 143 diseases and disorders. Obviously a book this size (it has to fit in the pocket) cannot be all-encompassing, and it is not surprising that relatively esoteric diseases or laboratory test nuances cannot be covered. For example, von Willebrand testing is limited to von Willebrand "factor" only, without a discussion of multimers or ristocetin cofactor. (And it is referred to incorrectly in the possessive, i.e., von Willebrand's.) Yet surprisingly, it contains a little-known "pearl" that von Willebrand factor activity reference range varies by ABO blood type. Similarly "heparin-induced thrombocytopenia antibodies" mentions an "antigen" assay (presumably the heparin-PF4 EIA) without mentioning the serotonin-release assay, and comments it is elevated in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia without noting the notoriously poor specificity of this test (i.e., detectable in many people without heparin-induced thrombocytopenia). As for the diagnostic algorithms, the two eponymous diseases (Cushing's syndrome, Wegener's granulomatosis - which, by the way, has been renamed "granulomatosis with polyangiitis") do not have an introduction, so you better know what the disease is in advance or the algorithm will not be helpful. A book this size cannot get into these details, and in this regard this edition is laudable for covering so much information in such a concise and clear manner.
Assessment: This edition continues the tradition of excellence of the previous editions. You should get it if you want/need a broad overview of diagnostic imaging and laboratory testing in current clinical practice.