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From The CriticsReviewer: Korwyn Williams, MD, PhD (Phoenix Children's Hospital)
Description: The title says it all. This is a review of the spells of childhood, which often erroneously are thought to be seizures. The author thoughtfully and exhaustively discusses the nonepileptic events which often are given short shrift in seizure reviews.
Purpose: The goal is to help clinicians better distinguish between nonepileptic and epileptic events by reviewing commonalities and differences between the two. The author also provides much useful information on epidemiology, historical and examination findings, diagnostic testing and its utility, and treatment. These events are common in any pediatric practice and well worth knowing. The book succeeds admirably in meeting his goal.
Audience: Pediatric practitioners are the intended audience. Pediatric neurologists would appreciate the epidemiological and neuroanatomical descriptions, but general practitioners (especially trainees) would appreciate the salient historical and examination findings and treatment options, which are often displayed in easy to read tables. The author, who has been a child neurologist for several decades, is currently the academic chief of the division of pediatric neurology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and has published articles on a wide variety of pediatric neurological issues.
Features: Paroxysmal events from breath-holding spells and migraines to confusional arousals, tics, and conversion disorders are just some of the conditions reviewed, all in great detail. The author nicely categorizes the spells (e.g., sleep-related, movement disorders, headaches, syncope, factitious disorder), providing a framework to help readers better approach these problems. The tables are particularly helpful in distilling key points from the chapters. For instance, in the initial chapter differentiating diagnostic considerations, a table titled, "Initial diagnostic paradigm for non-epileptic disorders" demonstrates how alteration in consciousness as a key element aids in refining the differential diagnosis. Another example of a useful table is in the chapter on movement disorders, in which commonly used medications with their pediatric dosing, types of movements for which they are effective, and their mechanisms of action are collected. If there are any shortcomings, it would be the exhaustive detail that sometimes only a neuroanatomist or autonomic specialist would appreciate. But, that information can be skimmed easily and information gleaned as needed.
Assessment: This is a very useful book to read and have on your bookshelf. Much of the information can be found in pediatric neurology textbooks, but this is a particularly thorough, concise, and accessible compendium for all pediatric practitioners.