The Digestive System

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Summary of review

This is a really great textbook, particularly for those lower down in medical school. It is probably one of the only textbooks from which I’ve read almost every chapter from start to finish.
It’s packed full of useful and relevant diagrams, and also breaks up the text with case histories, and other useful tip boxes.
 
The text is well written, with typically concise sentences, and not too much waffle. In terms of style, probably somewhere between a ‘Martini’ and a ‘crash course’.  It’s based mostly around physiology, hence why those in years 1&2 will probably find it most useful, but there’s still a good deal of pathology and pharmacology thrown in. However, don’t expect the same clinical details and relevance as a clinical text (e.g. Kumar & Clarke, Davidson’s).
 
The book divides the digestive system into its various parts, and sorts these by chapter. These are actually pretty manageable chunks, and for my PBL course it worked out pretty nicely to be reading a chapter or too each week. There is a lot of detail though, and I wouldn’t get too bogged down if you don’t get through it all.
 
And onto the images and diagrams… these are really excellent, and probably the books strongest point. There are plenty of them, but they don’t feel overwhelming or crammed in (like they sometimes do in ‘crash course’). The diagrams, often very simple, are memorable and get the message across. They are complemented by histology and a variety of other images, including CT, contrast enemas and x-ray etc.
 
Some may not be keen on the style, as it’s not the easiest skim read, but certainly better to dip into than one of the core clinical texts (e.g. Martini), and intelligently divided and sign posted to find the section you want. If you put in the effort, you will be rewarded.
 
Finally, the crunch question… “is it worth an extra £25 when I’ve already got a good core physiology textbook?”  Yes! Although a second hand older edition off Amazon would be a good choice for those not wanting to splash out.
 
Conclusion

A really good all round textbook, which is well written especially well organised. It mainly covers physiology, but ties in a lot of imaging, pathology and pharmacology nicely to break it up. It stops just short of being a truly great book as the pathology is a little too brief to be of clinical use, but it does help make sense of all the physiology.