HarperCollins Illustrated Medical Dictionary

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9780062731425: HarperCollins Illustrated Medical Dictionary

America's most prominent medical reference for the nonprofessional contains more than 26,000 incisive and understandable definitions, 2,500 two-color illustrations, and 600 pages of up-to-date and thoroughly detailed information.

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About the Author:

Ida Dox, PhD, listed in Marquis Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World, is the senior author of several reference books in the medical sciences, including Melloni's Illustrated Dictionary of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Parthenon Publishing) and Attorney's Illustrated Medical Dictionary (West Group), and is a co-author of the award-winning book Illustrated Review of Human Anatomy (J.B. Lippincott) and Melloni's Illustrated Student Atlas of Human Anatomy (Parthenon Publishing). Her many consulting services in medical communication and human anatomy have included working for the U.S. House of Representatives on the medical panel of the Select Committee on Assassinations, investigating the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. She testified with the medical panel before the congressional hearing about her involvement in the investigation. Her detailed study of the anatomical evidence and resulting illustrations are housed in the National Archives. Dr Dox was employed at Georgetown University School of Medicine and her scientific articles appear in professional journals. She resides near the National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, where she consults their voluminous medical literature and resources.

From Booklist:

Previous editions of this dictionary were published as Melloni's Illustrated Medical Dictionary. This edition retains the format of earlier editions, but definitions have been deleted or modified and new terms added.

Definitions are supplemented by 2,500 sepia-and-black illustrations, which run across the top of each page. Illustrated terms are printed in color in the text to refer the user to the illustration. Color is also used at the bottom of each page to indicate the first and last entry on the page.

A list of abbreviations and symbols; a list of prefixes, suffixes, and combining forms; and a phonetic pronunciation guide, printed on tinted paper, precede the main body of the dictionary.

The audience for this book is identified as the general public, and the cover states that the dictionary is "the complete home medical dictionary." Definitions are described as "brief, accurate and to the point explanations of current medical terms." The detailed, scientifically labeled illustrations are intended to preclude the need for lengthy definitions, most of which run only one or two sentences and use fairly technical vocabulary.

The definition-illustration combination works in some cases, but not all. For example, definitions and the corresponding illustrations for medical devices and instruments provide a clear understanding of the terms. For other terms, dependence on the illustration to clarify the definition is less successful. The definition of amino acid appears as a subentry under acid. It is defined as "any organic acid containing one or more amino groups and a carboxyl group; forms the essential component of proteins." The corresponding illustration is a double-page-spread chart of the chemical composition of the major amino acids. No additional information is given, nor are there see references to main entries for individual amino acids. The lay audience will find the definition in Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary (F. A. Davis, 1992) much more informative as it gives not only a definition but also a full explanation of the function of amino acids. The dictionary has inadequate information on prenatal development. There is, under embryo, a definition accompanied by illustrations of the human embryo at three unidentified stages of development. In contrast, Mosby's provides an illustrated chart showing development of the human embryo from conception to 38 weeks.

These comparisons are not intended to devalue the work under review. It is a fine dictionary with outstanding medical drawings, but it is not a home medical-reference tool. It is appropriate for health-sciences libraries and students, but the general public and public library reference desks will find dictionaries that provide more detailed definitions more appropriate to their needs.

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Ida Dox, Biagio John Melloni, Gilbert M. Eisner
Published by Perennial (1993)
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