Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited; 2017.331 pages
Also available at www.tg.org.au
The complex world of rheumatology can be confusing for those not deeply entrenched in it. It can appear full of obscure diagnoses, tests and treatments. Individual patients can be hard to categorise, and so much of standard practice is rarely articulated. It is therefore of great credit to the authors that this guide is practical and accessible while sacrificing very little in terms of complexity.
It is clear that much more than just the cover has changed for this edition. New sections at the beginning of the text on undifferentiated symptoms and undifferentiated arthritis clearly express the core rheumatological approach for the non-specialist. These additions are concise and will be invaluable to frontline clinicians.
Immunosuppression management, fibromyalgia, back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and the approach to mild non-specific symptoms make up the bulk of queries to specialists from primary care. These are all addressed with updated advice that is accurate but realistic and easy to use. This should be welcomed by both GPs and rheumatologists.
Sections on core rheumatological diseases from previous editions have been bolstered with new evidence. The style of the Therapeutic Guidelines brand, such as highlighted therapeutic options and flowcharts, is helpful. Trustworthy internet resources are also a welcome addition. Sometimes textbooks can be verbose around uncertainty and controversy. However, despite rheumatology being full of these areas, very few words in this book are wasted.
It is often said that rheumatology is not for those who like black and white, but for those who embrace shades of grey. This impressive book gives the non-specialist reader the chance to appreciate these shades quickly and accurately. It should be embraced by specialist trainees and GPs alike.
David Liew is the current editorial registrar on the Editorial Executive Committee of Australian Prescriber.