Niedermeyer, E. COMPENDIUM OF THE EPILEPSIES Springfield, III.: Charles C Thomas, Publisher. 1974.
Seizures are a common problem in general pediatric practice, and the physician interested in a comprehensive but brief presentation would do well to read this compendium.
Dr. Niedermeyer has had extensive experience in the management of epilepsy at Johns Hopkins, where he serves as chief of electroencephalography. His prime interest in EEG interpretation is very evident, as reproductions of tracings cover a full 15 per cent of the actual text.
The book has been written for general physicians, but the author's association with Dr. S. Livingston makes it especially valuable for the pediatrician. The advice given is based on experience and remains highly practical. There are no cookbook approaches to therapy but, rather, solid presentations of the pros and cons of each agent and an excellent section that outlines the general principles of anticonvulsant therapy. Physicians in practice will be pleased to see that Dr. Niedermeyer decries overtesting for the sake of completeness; obviously, from his statements, he has the patient's best interests at heart.
The book considers the basic mechanisms (the most difficult chapter and, unfortunately, the opening one), types of seizures, etiology of epileptic conditions, special and rare types of epilepsy, diagnostic procedures, differentiation between epileptic and nonepileptic states, psychiatric implications, therapy, neurosurgical treatment, and some general information on the social problems facing the epileptic.
Some readers will find the discussion of the EEG patterns outside their interest range, but they can gloss over this material without detraction from the other material. Pediatricians will probably find the section on the techniques of temporal lobectomy mainly of passing interest, and I am sure that it was included for the sake of completeness.
The book's main value lies in its presentation of the various clinical facets of epilepsy, the differentiation of the disease from nonepileptic conditions, and its practical but thorough guide to drug therapy. Social and psychiatric problems are raised, but there is little guidance for their solution. Other sources will have to be consulted on these topics.
The book's disadvantages are mainly a result of the need for brevity; consequently, in some areas the material is simply not clear. Obviously, this would be a problem in any short text. In addition, there are a few areas that need to be perused slowly and reread, for the author's desire to waste no words makes them difficult to absorb.
Overall, the book is an excellent source of valuable information on this problem.