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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Anthony Shanks, MD (Washington University School of Medicine)
Description: This is the 23rd edition of an essential textbook for the practice of obstetrics. It covers a wide breadth of topics in exquisite detail, yet remains easily accessible to obstetricians at all levels of training.
Purpose: This is an excellent resource for goal-directed reading about a particular subject, but it also can be consumed by chapters or subjects, given the simplicity of the writing style.
Audience: Practicing obstetricians will appreciate it, but obstetrics/gynecology residents will find it invaluable.
Features: The organization of the book and the attention to maternal conditions and how they are affected by pregnancy are nicely done. The amount of information is appropriate for the level of an intern in obstetrics. The writing style is easy to comprehend - it is not too dense and one does not have to read a paragraph 10 times to understand it. An appropriate amount of research studies are quoted to support the statements, and this would be a good first reference to expose obstetricians in training to evidence-based medicine. However, some sections could be updated. For instance, in the operative delivery discussion on regional anesthesia and labor progression, it would be worthwhile to incorporate some of the more timely studies that provide a counterargument. A significant improvement over previous editions is the layout, which is easier to read, and the color figures, which accentuate the layout. Tables and figures are cited and in a bold blue, making it is easier to find them. With these changes, this edition makes progress towards easier consumption of larger quantities of material. One feature that seems prominent in this edition is cross-referencing between chapters. At times, a simple explanation would have sufficed, as opposed to encouraging the reader to find another chapter for an answer. Finally, adding a summary chart or paragraph at the end of every chapter highlighting the key points would be helpful.
Assessment: Williams Obstetrics has always been considered an essential textbook for residents and physicians in obstetrics and gynecology, and the newest edition does nothing to change that. A similar reference is Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies, 5th edition, Gabbe et al. (Elsevier, 2007). The latest edition of Williams takes the best feature of Gabbe - its ease of consumption - and improves upon it with its excellent incorporation of evidence-based medicine. The figures and layout make this edition easier to read and comprehend than previous ones, and the color figures and images are first rate. Though the cross-referencing could be reduced, this remains an excellent obstetrics textbook and I will continue to recommend it.