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Nagi G Barakat, London: Royal Society of Medicine, 2003, £15.95 (paperback), pp 197. ISBN 1 85315 524 1
Well done. You’ve just received the letter from the college telling you of you success at passing the part one of membership. With a skip in your step you set about preparing for the part 2 written. You start to look through copious ECGs and lists of renal blood results and your registrar gives you their old picture book that you read each night while on the toilet. Things are going relatively well until you encounter your first grey case. You have heard much of this mythical creature that plagues the paediatric SHO. You try to defeat it but your efforts are pitiful in the face of such stiff opposition. Like the Sybil to your Basil it leaves you confused, frustrated, embarrassed, and downright cross—if only there was an unsuspecting guest to abuse. But fear no more, for this collection of one hundred real life grey cases is here to help.
Covering all the major topics, these cases are arranged into 10 question blocks, with each section providing a full and varied evening’s revision. The fact that the questions are real life cases, and they read as such, brings a much needed everyday relevance to the hours of study. Many of the cases are accompanied by various imaging and benefit from doing so. One aspect that I particularly like is that the style of question accurately reflects the new style of exam, with several options for each stem—most other titles have open ended “what’s the diagnosis?” questions terminating a long passage of information.
The author has a particular interest in paediatric neurology and this comes across with detailed and pertinent explanations spanning important neurological conditions. From personal experience, if you can get to grips with the neurology topics then you are half way there. The questions concerned with infectious diseases, another area many trainees have difficulty with, is also explained well in an easy to read and absorb manner.
This text provides the revising trainee with realistic and fair clinical conundrums that have much wider applications than just in an examination hall. Like any good revision text this collection of cases allows you to forget you are actually revising, and by the end of the book you develop a knack for identifying the pertinent information and ignoring the red herrings. I am sure that this will soon appear on many trainees’ bookshelves.
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