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Daria Pašalić
Editor-in-Chief
Department of Medical Chemistry, Biochemistry and Clinical Chemistry
Zagreb University School of Medicine
Šalata ul 2.
10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
Phone +385 (1) 4590 205; +385 (1) 4566 940
E-mail: dariapasalic [at] gmail [dot] com

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 Book review

 

Clinical Biochemistry
Allan Gaw, Michael J. Murphy, Robert A. Cowan, Denis St.J. O’Reilly, Michael J.Stewart, James Shepherd
3rd edition, Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 2004.
 
Dunja Rogić
Clinical Institute of Laboratory diagnostics, Clinical Hospital Centre Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
 
Medical biochemistry, or clinical chemistry / clinical biochemistry, is insufficiently represented in the curricula of university schools of medicine worldwide. This insufficiency is unfortunately subsequently reflected in the practice of graduated physicians who not rarely lack the adequate knowledge of the scope and limitations, or proper use, of laboratory tests. The aim of the textbook Clinical Biochemistry is exactly to improve such situation. It is intended for medical students who come across clinical biochemistry for the first time, but it can also be of interest to laboratory professionals of any profile if they are involved in medical education.
The concept of the book is consistent with current trends in medical education so that it is immediately obvious that it lacks the format of a classical textbook. Topics are presented in adequate length (double page), with abundance of figures, short questions, problem solving tasks, and case reports. Answers and explanations of case reports can be found at the end of the book, which encourages readers’ own attempts and approaches to problem solving. Figures and charts actually make the major part of the book; they provide clear presentation and enable easy understanding of the contents. Laboratory algorithms are also frequently included to encourage rational and meaningful approach to differential diagnosis of individual disorders.
The book is divided in four main sections. The first, Introduction to clinical biochemistry, provides the essential framework and general principles of the field and makes students familiar with all important concepts like inaccuracy, imprecision, biological variability, reference range and preanalytical interferences. The second section, entitled Core biochemistry, deals with routine tests that are conducted in most clinical laboratories. This section is important as it demonstrates to students the area that comprises basic biochemistry in a contemporary clinical laboratory, which is frequently a notion that is incompletely understood by physicians. Also, laboratory reports are interpreted in the context of clinical data and pathophysiological events, which is particularly important for their understanding and proper interpretation. The third section is entitled Endocrinology and it treats of measuring the level of various hormones, dynamic functional tests and other specific points related to this field of laboratory diagnosis. The final part of the book, Special tests, addresses rarely requested, yet clinically extremely important tests like laboratory assessment of nutritive status, toxicological tests, the tests performed in differential diagnostic management of malabsorption syndromes, determination of trace element concentrations, the significance of measuring laboratory parameters in different body fluids, etc.
The authors of the textbook are laboratory experts; however, as it is intended for medical students with basic knowledge of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, the textbook is primarily written for users rather than providers of laboratory services. It is, therefore, not engaged in the analytical aspect of laboratory tests unless it is essential for interpretation of results or recognition of possible interferences. Nevertheless, the book may also be useful to everyone involved in routine medical biochemistry laboratory practice since it provides plain insight into the clinical context of laboratory tests; such insight is exactly the point that is not infrequently missing in the routine practice of laboratory professionals.