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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: James J. Foody, MD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This book is arranged in four sections dealing with (1) what is migraine?; (2) clinical diagnosis and treatment; (3) chronic headache disorders; and (4) behavioral factors.
Purpose: The purpose is to create a comprehensive guide integrating scientific and therapeutic advances with practicalities of daily practice. This is a worthy goal for such a work. Unfortunately, this book is an abject failure.
Audience: The authors intend the book for physicians who manage headache patients. In fact, it is unclear who would benefit by reading this book. Contradictions between chapters are abundant, thus confusing all but the expert, who will only be frustrated. The roster of contributors is notable for the paucity of those with academic appointments.
Features: Line drawings, photographs, and tables are scattered throughout. They are clear, but seldom helpful, and some are just silly. In general, the references are dated and of poor quality. There are more references from the 1960s than from the l990s. Given the several books recently published on the same topic with much more current references, this failure is not excusable.
Assessment: The past decade has witnessed an explosion in the scientific understanding of headaches. As a consequence, much traditional understanding about headache and its treatment has been cast aside. One would not know it from this book. A few chapters, for instance those by Drs. Couch and Mathew, are well written and current. These stand out in comparison with other chapters that might have been written 20 years ago. Contradictions concerning fundamental knowledge can be found in adjacent chapters. Because several excellent books on this topic have been published in the past year, this book could have been a minor contribution. As written, it is worse than useless because it propagates confusion.