What should be the appropriate inter-edition interval of a major multi-volume textbook? The first edition of Bluestone and Stool’s Pediatric Otolaryngology was published as a single volume in 1983, just over 30 years before this fifth edition was in 2014, with the intervening editions published in 1990, 1996 and 2003.
In those years, it had firmly established itself as the premier US textbook in paediatric otolaryngology. Those three decades also saw the inexorable rise and maturation of paediatric otolaryngology as a subspecialty.
Many of the 122 chapters reflect those in previous editions and, in some, the authors have been retained. The overwhelming majority of authors are from US institutions. Some of these chapters have remained almost completely unchanged, such as facial paralysis and neck masses, with even the illustrations unchanged. In others, there has been an evolution, or perhaps just a change in style, of presentation. Some chapters have been assigned to new authors. Jack Paradise, of criteria fame, has handed on the baton of adenotonsillectomy discussion to a new team which has discussed all aspects of the topic in great detail and comprehensively referenced. There have been welcome new chapters including ones on biofilms, gastroenterology, pulmonology, outcomes and professionalism. While the latter two are not specific to paediatric otolaryngology, they are well written and framed.
This two-volume textbook comprehensively covers the paediatric curriculum. It remains a reference textbook rather than one which the candidate for the fellowship examination might consider using as the preparatory text. The material is generally very clearly presented, and the chapters very well illustrated. It has a place in every paediatric ENT department library.
I learned quite a lot from reading this textbook, albeit selectively, for this review. I also learned a new word in ‘encomium’, meaning ‘(oration) in praise of’, a very personal celebration of the life of Sylvan Stool, who passed away at the age of 79 between the fourth and fifth editions of the eponymous textbook. He would be pleased with the persistent quality and relevance of his textbook.