The history of the American neurological textbook dates to the late 19th century and began in 1871 with A Treatise on Diseases of the Nervous System by William A. Hammond. Bringing together clinico-anatomical materials from the world literature and from his own New York practice, Hammond started a legacy that has been enriched by over a century of newer texts, many with repeated editions. Historically, the American textbook has been largely a one volume general encyclopedic presentation aimed at advanced students, residents, and practicing physicians. Traditionally, the neurological textbook stands as an independent source that can be read and reread, chapter by chapter, and can also serve as a rapid reference for teaching, patient evaluation, and care.
With the burgeoning volume of neuroscience information and the advent of subspecialties in neurology, contemporary textbook authors have faced a new challenge in textbook organization. In response to the mass of new information, some authors have abandoned the single-volume format and created reference multivolume texts; others have abandoned the concept of a general neurology textbook and authored subspecialty texts on selected areas of neurology (movement disorders, epilepsy, cerebrovascular diseases). Some emphasize one element of neurological diagnosis, focusing primarily on anatomical or etiological issues; others focus on technical aspects like neuroimaging, molecular genetic testing, or electrophysiology.
In designing this textbook, we have attempted to present a text that parallels the manner in which physicians actually approach neurological patients in everyday practice. We have emphasized the most distinguishing feature of clinical neurology embodied in the diagnostic process of establishing first an anatomical localization and then with the help of diagnostic tests, an etiological explanation of disease and specific treatment recommendations. In our view, no other textbook is organized to reflect this sequential diagnostic exercise that is the very basis of clinical neurology.
The three large divisions of this textbook are therefore
Neuroanatomical localization and syndromes, covering the neurological history, examination, and syndromes associated with lesions affecting neuroanatomical structures throughout the nervous system. Part 2:
Neurodiagnostic tools, covering the techniques used to refine the anatomical diagnosis to an etiological explanation. Part 3:
Etiological diseases covering the pathophysiology, differential diagnoses and treatment of specific neurological diseases.
In addition to this unique organization, we believe this textbook offers the reader several added advantages over other available texts. First, whereas an international team of neurologists and other specialists has been recruited to write the chapters of this textbook, the editors have maintained a centralized control of the text in order to provide the reader with a homogeneous presentation. We, therefore, believe this textbook offers the advantages of multiauthor authority and at the same time a consistent pattern of presentation that flows from one chapter and section to another. Second, in the interest of up-to-date references, each chapter has a list of cited references and also a section on Reviews and Selected Updates that we have created as close to the time of publication as possible. Third, we are able to provide a free accompanying CD-ROM that contains the full text with appropriate links between subjects, as well as videotape examples of disorders and interactive study questions that complement each chapter. The videotape entries are marked in the margins of the textbook with icons. The CD-ROM is made possible by unrestricted educational grants to the editors by several sponsors listed on the CD-ROM.
In defining success, we are hopeful that our efforts have resulted, not in "just another general neurology textbook" but rather in a new and innovative approach that actually captures the neurological method in its modern context. Our aim is that readers move through the three parts of the text or link the sections through the CD-ROM as part of their neurological evaluation of patients. To us, success will reside in seeing the book in use on the hospital unit and outpatient clinic, seeing a resident carrying the text in the hallway, seeing a student working through the clinical exercises on the CD-ROM, or hearing treating physicians comment on the videotape segments in the context of their practice. In our view, the complexity of neurology requires a constant updating of material and a solid foundation in a systematic method of study. In this way, the physician is ready for the common and uncommon entity, for as the celebrated 19th century neurologist Jean Martin Charcot emphasized over 100 years ago:
When a patient calls on you, he is under no obligation to have a simple disease just to please you .
CHRISTOPHER G. GOETZ ERIC J. PAPPERT
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