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Kendig’s Disorders of the Respiratory Tract in Children. 6th edition. Edited by V Chesnick, T Boat. (Pp 1214; hardback n/a). WB Saunders, 1998. ISBN 0 7216 6541 1 .
When faced with a child with an unusual or difficult respiratory problem, the first reference text many budding paediatric pulmonologists turn to is Kendig’s excellent and comprehensiveDisorders of the Respiratory Tract in Children. First published in 1967, this book covers lung development and physiology, investigation of the respiratory tract (including pulmonary function testing) and detailed descriptions of both common and rare paediatric respiratory disorders. The 1998, 6th edition boasts a new editor, Thomas Boat, as well as 30 new authors and six new chapters. All but six of the 100 or so contributors come from North America (only one is from Europe) and this heavy North American bias is reflected in the style and content of the book, especially in the numbers of investigations suggested for some clinical problems.
The editors have done a good job of maintaining a uniform style throughout the book and repetition in different sections has largely been avoided. Many of the chapters from the 5th edition have been updated and contain extensive bibliographies (referenced up to 1996), now usefully divided in some chapters by subject headings. The major chapters on asthma and cystic fibrosis reflect many of the recent advances made in understanding the pathogenesis and genetics of these disorders. The importance of molecular biology is also reflected in the inclusion of a new chapter on molecular determinants of lung development, although the depth of knowledge assumed by the authors varies from one paragraph to the next thus making the text difficult to follow at times. In other areas the book is largely unchanged and the quality of the chest radiographs in some sections is disappointing.
On the whole, Kendig’s remains a valuable reference textbook and, as the editors modestly state in the preface, it has gained the reputation of being the “bible” in paediatric lung disease—at least in North America. The 6th edition maintains that tradition of excellence.