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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Valerie L. Ng, PhD MD(Alameda County Medical Center/Highland Hospital)
Description: This broad overview of laboratory medicine is true to its subtitle, "The Diagnosis of Disease in the Clinical Laboratory."
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a comprehensive guide to the appropriate use of clinical laboratory testing for diagnosis, treatment, and management of disease.
Audience: It is intended for medical students, but the information is sufficiently detailed and complex to be of use for laboratory medicine or pathology residents early in their training. It also would be useful for physicians in practice who may want to update their knowledge on testing related to different medical specialties (e.g., rheumatology, hematology, etc.). The editor and authors are well respected in their fields of expertise - this is an all-star cast.
Features: This looks like an evolution of the author's Laboratory Medicine: Clinical Pathology in the Practice of Medicine (American Society for Clinical Pathology Press, 2002). Indeed, the first chapter of this book, which describes test methodologies, has the identical set of wonderfully self-explanatory pictures/graphics as the previous one. However, although the chapter titles mirror those in his previous book, this time the author has brought together a world-class group of specialty field experts as chapter authors instead of writing the entire book himself; this version is much improved from the previous one. Some of the chapters (e.g., infectious diseases) are sufficiently comprehensive to stand alone as references in their own right. The division of material into organ-system based chapters is at times awkward — for example, I would not normally go to a section titled "female genital tract" to read about pregnancy-related conditions. (There are entire books devoted to pregnancy and laboratory medicine issues.) One very minor issue — the peripheral blood smear photomicrographs in the section on diseases of red blood cells have an unnatural blue tinge. And one very minor quibble — some very straightforward statements do not adequately reflect the underlying scientific complexities (e.g., "a low value for von Willebrand factor-cleaving protease activity is the diagnostic hallmark for TTP" is contrary to evidence published in Blood 2010;115(8):1500-15). Admittedly, these nuances may be splitting hairs too fine for a medical student audience. However, while this book is intended for medical students, the breadth and depth of information it contains is much above that normally expected to be mastered by second-year medical students.
Assessment: This book nicely fills the gap between comprehensive clinical laboratory science texts and the traditional and well-recognized, definitive laboratory medicine texts (Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods, 21st edition, McPherson and Pincus (Elsevier, 2007); Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics, 4th edition, Burtis et al. (Elsevier, 2006); Clinical Laboratory Medicine, 2nd edition, McClatchey et al. (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2002)). It would be perfect for medical students and practicing physicians and it would be a perfect companion textbook for those teaching laboratory medicine in a medical school curriculum.