Reviewer:Robert M Arensman, MD(University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description:This new book in reality is a vast revision and updating of a book first published in 1992. As Duane Alexander says in his introduction, "This is a really big book." He points out that 40 years ago, this book would have been small since most of the information was not known at that time. Equally true is that this book would have been much smaller or less inclusive even in 1992. The explosion in knowledge in prenatal diagnosis and care has moved to "WARP speed," chief editor Mark Evans's term, and is well reported in this massive text.
Purpose:In Dr. Evans's introduction to the 1992 book, Reproductive Risks and Prenatal Diagnosis, he wrote: "The object of this book is to present the radically new approaches to diagnoses of fetal anomalies in such a way as to be understandable, reproducible, and useful in everyday practice." That continues to be the guiding reason for a new publication that is admirably achieved in 767 pages, 68 chapters, by 114 authors and four editors. The result brings us current in this area for the moment, but just barely, and revisions and updates will shortly follow.
Audience:This book is long and detailed. It is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in prenatal diagnosis, but in reality its audience will prove to be primarily in obstetrics, and specifically perinatology. To that end, the four editors have assembled an exhaustive list of chapter contributors drawn from institutions around the world. Editors, contributors, and institutions chosen represent major centers with highly crediblecredentials.
Features:The 68 chapters are organized into seven sections. First, the editors present material that updates genetic education: classic genetics, newer concepts, syndromes, and genetic counseling are but a few of the topics covered in the first section. Second, the book covers ultrasound diagnosis and screening, especially through photographs, illustrations, charts, and tables. The authors follow an anatomical and then gestational format to cover these topics thoroughly. Sections three and six deal with individual procedures and fetal therapy. The fourth section has a specific chapter for each of the laboratory diagnostic modalities currently available: cytogenetics, biochemical genetics, molecular screening, etc. Section five covers management problems and delves deeply into issues of fetal loss and autopsy, reduction of multiple pregnancies, and termination. The five chapters in the final section address the ethical, legal and social issues. Illustrative material is copious, well produced, and well explained. References are minimal to massive, almost excessive for some chapters.
Assessment:This is an excellent update on the whole field of prenatal diagnosis and care. The book is comprehensive, inclusive, well presented, and well illustrated. It will serve as a definitive resource currently, but it will almost surely need frequent revision and updating.