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Rene Cailliet (pp 310). American Medical Association Press, USA, 2004. $69.95, ISBN 1-57947-408-X
This new book from Rene Cailliet is primarily intended for medical clinicians and medical trainees; it is designed to detail the normal functional anatomy of the musculoskeletal system, with a view to practitioners eliciting an understanding of how various musculoskeletal impairments might occur, and developing suitable diagnostic regimes and therapeutic approaches. Dr Cailliet has written a number of excellent texts over the years and most clinicians will be aware of his books on topics such as disorders of the musculoskeletal system, low back pain, and hand pain and impairment. Overall this current book is another good addition to this collection.
Following a fairly full introductory chapter on the concepts of functional anatomy, the book is broken down in a regional approach with separate chapters detailing functional anatomy in the lumbrosacral spine, cervical spine, shoulder, elbow (plus wrist, hand, and fingers), knee, hip joint, and foot and ankle. In each case the text is well written and informative and largely logical in format; however, there is a tendency to over explain some aspects of the anatomy, while other aspects are quite sparse in detail, even though they are equally important areas. In the case of the lower limb, for example, there is no mention of the limb rotation that occurs during development, which allows an appreciation of flexion and extension at the ankle joint and thus the position of the flexor and extensor muscles. Being a functional anatomy text, it is also a little disappointing that in some cases explanations of muscle attachments are rather simplified and there is no real mention of anatomical variation. Therefore I would suggest that some readers may need to refer to other texts, including anatomy atlases, to support and enhance the functional descriptions given.
As the title of the book suggests, this is an illustrative guide, and as such it contains a multitude of clear and uncluttered figures that graphically illustrate the anatomical function explained within the text. Although these figures are in the majority of cases effective and of good quality, the lack of full colour, I feel, is a missed opportunity. Although presumably to keep the costs of the book down, the use of only two-colour artwork will probably result in not inspiring all its potential readers (especially medical students to which the book is also aimed), and also means that the illustrations are not always as easy to interpret as they could be. The figure legends are in most cases self explanatory, with all abbreviations defined. Where legends are less clear, reference back to the main text should elucidate full understanding.
The inclusion of extensive reference sections at the end of each chapter is to be welcomed, although for many readers the clear and authoritative nature of the text means that further reading may not be required. The inclusion of a short glossary at the back of the book in future editions would prove useful to readers unfamiliar with some of the terms used.
Overall, this book is an authoritative and a generally well written text, and despite my limited concerns over the illustrations I would recommend this as a useful and informative addition to most libraries and clinical practices.