Necmettin Pamir M, Al-Mefty O, Borba LAB. Chordomas: Technologies, Techniques and Treatment Strategies. Thieme; 2017; 256 pp; 400 ill; $199.99
When I was asked to review this book, I was a bit apprehensive. I questioned the rationale of reviewing an entire book dealing with a tumor I encounter only a handful of times a year. As a neuroradiologist with passion for skull base imaging, I would have found more practical use out of a book discussing more commonly encountered diagnoses such as schwannomas or meningiomas. However, to my pleasant surprise, this was an outstanding book to review and by far one of the best reads in the last few years.
The book, a product of the collaboration of over 50 contributors from 6 different countries, tackles a rare but challenging entity. It is a well-organized book that is divided into 4 parts.
Part 1. Definition, History, Demographics, Pathology and Pathogenesis: Eight chapters describe historic aspects of this disease and address a wide variety of topics ranging from descriptive epidemiology, to embryology of the notochord, to pathology, and even to cytogenetic and molecular biology of chordomas.
Part 2. Diagnosis of Chordomas: As a neuroradiologist, this was of specific interest to me. It consists of 3 chapters. The first 2 are about radiologic findings and differential diagnosis of chordomas at the skull base and spine, respectively. The third chapter deals with molecular imaging of chordomas.
Part 3. Surgical Treatment of Chordomas: This is the largest section of the book. It tackles the surgical techniques and approaches that are currently available, their indications, advantages, and limitations. Conventional techniques as well as new, innovative technologies are eloquently described.
Part 4. Special Topics in Chordomas: In this section, a variety of miscellaneous topics are discussed, including radiation therapy, recurrent tumor management, and even outcomes/quality of life of patients with chordomas.
Overall, the book is thoughtfully organized, the chapters are well-written, and each topic is thoroughly discussed. Generally, the image quality is excellent and the vast majority of images and diagrams are of high resolution and are vibrant in color. However, my only criticism is that the book does not include an electronic version, a popular and very practical feature that makes the book more user-friendly and accessible to readers.
From a radiologist’s perspective, I have to specifically emphasize the chapters dealing with radiologic diagnosis, which are exceptionally well-written and beautifully illustrated. The authors were not only able to effectively describe the various presentations, signal characteristics, and variants of chordoma, but were also able to illustrate them with appropriate high-quality images.
In summary, I enjoyed reading this well-organized, comprehensive, and well-illustrated book. It has significantly increased my knowledge of the complex, multifaceted approach to the diagnosis and treatment of chordomas. I would highly recommend this book to the neurosurgery fellow specializing in skull base or spine interventions. However, although an important reference, I believe this book is too subspecialized for practicing radiologists and most neuroradiologists.