Newborn surgery

Published:November 07, 2013DOI:
      This well-presented comprehensive textbook covers all aspects of newborn surgery, but for the purpose of this review I will concentrate on those topics that I believe would be of interest to the readership of this journal. The list of authors comprises an impressive group of internationally recognized and highly respected experts in their fields from all over the world. Each chapter includes a well written and concise summary of epidemiology and embryology and there are clear descriptions of the presentation and clinical features of the conditions. An impressive effort is made to present long-term outcomes in each chapter but it is clear that there is a lack of data in this area. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on long-term outcomes in newborn surgery, and there is an excellent generic overview of the validated tools available to assess quality of life and function. I would recommend that all young researchers read this chapter and remind them that these are the type of studies that this journal is anxious to promote and publish. Various controversies are alluded to in the management sections of each chapter, but I was disappointed that many authors did not take the opportunity to discuss and explore these issues and the levels of evidence in greater depth. The one exception to this is the excellent discussion on the pros and cons of nephrectomy versus conservative management in the multicystic dysplastic kidney. This could serve as a template for debating controversies in future editions of this book.
      Although a broad-based international author list is exciting, it has a number of disadvantages that are well represented in this book. There is a considerable degree of overlap, repetition, and contradiction, which after a while becomes tedious for the reader. I find it difficult to understand why there were separate chapters on bladder exstrophy and cloacal exstrophy instead of a single chapter covering the exstrophy epispadias complex. The same comment would apply to the two separate chapters on ureteral duplication and ureterocele. There are comprehensive chapters on imaging and antenatal hydronephrosis, but there is then considerable repetition, and at times contradiction, in the individual chapters on urinary tract obstruction, duplication, and vesicoureteric reflux. There was also no attempt to standardize the terminology used throughout the book. If overlap and repetition had been reduced, it would have provided the space to discuss the controversies, mentioned in the previous paragraph, in greater detail.
      My overall impression was that there is a slightly tired and dated feel to the book. In the chapter on imaging it is stated that (in my view correctly) there is now no role for intravenous urography (IVU) in the neonatal period and almost no role in the older child. Despite this, other chapters discuss IVU and they have numerous figures illustrating urographic anomalies. Surely there is no role for this nowadays. I was very disappointed to see a chapter entitled “Intersex Disorders”, despite the Chicago consensus document being published in 2006. The text in the chapter acknowledged the consensus but continued to use the outdated terminology of hermaphrodite and pseudohermaphrodite. In other chapters the outdated terms infantile and adult polycystic kidney disease are still mentioned. Some chapters have obviously been completely rewritten since the previous edition and have up-to-date references but for others, I suspect, there has been little more than the addition of a few new sentences and references.
      I think it is difficult for a textbook devoted to newborn surgery to be of great value to the paediatric urologist as much of our intervention takes place outside the newborn period. Therefore, I think this book will be of more interest to the paediatric surgery trainee, neonatologist, and neonatal surgeon. However, if the paediatric urologist finds it in the library or on the shelves of their paediatric surgery colleagues it is certainly worth a browse.