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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: William Scheftner, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This is a short multiauthored handbook-style book that seeks to provide simultaneously an overview of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and specific recommendations on the actual treatment procedures.
Purpose: The authors refer to the book as "...a pocket reference for the ... practitioner" and elsewhere comment that "The goal...is to provide a practical and useful outline of the basics of the treatment..." and "...an overview of all aspects of the treatment, from patient selection through treatment techniques to aftercare of the patient." The objectives are worthwhile and are generally met.
Audience: Although the book is addressed to the practicing psychiatrist who uses ECT, it is more suitable to the psychiatric resident who is doing the ECT rotation. The authors, who are internationally known for their research work in ECT, have credibility on the subject that cannot be challenged.
Features: The illustrations are well done, but there should be more, such as EEG recordings showing a "difficult" end point. The material is easy to access by the table of contents, index, and list of illustrations. The bibliography is excellent, although there are statements for which the experienced clinician would want references, such as issues of seizure duration. The authors provide references that are general and represent state-of-the art summaries. The overall appearance of the book is excellent; its lab coat pocket size is appealing so it can be conveniently carried.
Assessment: This reasonably priced book is aimed at the practitioner, but I believe it is better suited for the psychiatric resident or the clinician who is resuming use of ECT after a lapse. It is well organized, well illustrated, and contains a great deal of practical information, such as drug dosages and stimulus parameters for the beginner. However, the level of material is a bit basic for the experienced clinician or someone who reads Convulsive Therapy. Without being encyclopedic, it provides an excellent reference list that would fill out the reader's knowledge. Viewed from that perspective, it is a good text for organizing a beginner's knowledge of ECT.