Physical examination of the Spine by Albert and Vaccaro, in its second edition is an outstanding work that should be useful to any professional involved in the management of spinal conditions. I think the book is likely to be especially for those professionals who have not undergone formal training as spinal surgeons, as a quick reference. Such colleagues might include specialist physiotherapists and nurse practitioners, as well as medics with musculoskeletal/neurological interest. It might also be used to prepare for exams, for medical students or others.
Published by Thieme, it is a compact book (only 124 pages), presented concisely and in an easy-to-follow style. Its logical sequence makes the content easy to understand and remember.
In terms of content, the first chapter (The Fundamentals) provides the basics of spinal examination – anatomy and function. The images are of high quality and provide a lot of information at a glance, and are laid out so as to be useful for quick revision. Sensory and motor testing follows immediately after descriptions of the functional pathways, providing a good perspective. Examination is explained in detail, step by step.
The cervical spine section gives detail on palpation with clear visual aides. This was especially useful from the Physiotherapy standpoint. Conversely, the investigations important in assessing the cervical spine are also presented effectively, backed up with clear images.
The thoracic spine and lumbar spine physical examination chapters provide more detail than might be expected in a book of this size. The examination techniques are explained with pictures, which represent a good guide for positioning and handling.
At £48.63, the book is expensive for its size, though the high price is justified on the basis of its high quality content.