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Book review: Oxford Handbook of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (4th Edition)

Dr Harry Brown reviews the fourth edition of the Oxford Handbook of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which provides a wealth of practical advice on diagnosing and managing common conditions.

The Oxford Handbook of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (4th Edition)

Sally Collins, Kevin Hayes, Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, Kirana Arambage and Lawrence Impey

Published by Oxford University Press (March 2023)

ISBN 978-0-19-883867-8

Price: £36.99

This is a new edition of another excellent member of the superb Oxford Medical Handbook series. I am sure many readers have used this book series in the past, but just in case this is news to you, they are handbooks with a tough vinyl cover, slightly taller than my hand. However, they can be bigger than an average, conventional handbook, and this one comes in at an impressive 945 pages including the index.

Like other members of the series, it is well written, mainly text driven, with short sentences and short paragraphs as well as liberal use of bullet points. This book, as would be expected coming from this series, is highly clinically-focused and ideal to help manage a specific patient with a clinical problem.

These books are ideal for GPs, interested healthcare professionals and doctors in training grades, though some established specialists would appreciate the opportunity to review a topic. I can’t imagine geriatricians being interested in obstetric matters but they would likely find some of the gynaecology sections helpful.

This is a great book for GPs and their trainees and Chapter 5 (page 215) – Medical Disorders in Pregnancy – is particularly valuable. Pages 252 to 253 offer an excellent, practical review of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. These two pages provide what most people need to know about this condition – specialists and GPs alike.

For geriatricians, there are some good chapters on menopause, urogynaecology and benign and malignant conditions which are towards the end of the book. However, I suspect that junior doctors doing a combined Obstetrics and Gynaecology rotation or working towards exams would really appreciate this excellent and fact-packed book. It is full of gems, wisdom, wise experience and knowledge, and a great go-to guide when knowledge and advice is needed quickly.

The style of the text which is printed in small chunks, often bullet point style, makes it easy to rapidly scan and absorb the information. This means a topic can quickly be looked up and the query solved relatively painlessly. There are a few images, including some in colour, printed on glossy paper, but this book (typical of the series) is primarily text driven – which I suspect is what many users are looking for.

I am sure that many readers would appreciate an online or app version bundled with the purchase of the book. While this is not currently available, a kindle edition is available for just over £20 (in addition to the purchase price of the book).

The book itself is superb value for money, considering its scope of coverage and general excellence, and if someone thinks they will be a regular user, then I am sure they will like this book. It maintains the excellence of the other members of the Oxford Medical Handbooks series and users who are familiar with other books in the series, will know what to expect.

Dr Harry Brown is a retired GP and medical editor of Pavilion Health Today


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