Pub Date: 3/28/2017
Reviewed by: Ivan Damjanov, MD (University of Kansas Medical Center)
This is the tenth edition of the “small Robbins,” which has been updated and revised to provide medical students with a “readable, well illustrated, and concise overview of the principles of human pathology.” Accompanied by a user-friendly electronic version and additional learning and assessment resources on its website, this edition is well positioned to remain highest ranked as the most widely used pathology book for medical students.
Ever since its first edition in 1971, this abbreviated version of Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease has been very popular with both medical students and their instructors. Its emphasis was and still remains on synthesizing basic anatomic pathology facts with the clinical presentations of diseases. To help students understand the pathological changes, they are given a solid insight into the pathogenesis of those lesions. Modern basic science data are constantly revisited and the unity of pathology and other preclinical medical sciences is constantly emphasized. To understand the clinical correlates, students are taught pathophysiology and thus provided with a holistic approach to the most important and usually paradigmatic diseases. It is probably one of the most important lessons that they are taught in their medical schools, and we as teachers only hope that they will use this approach wisely and consistently for the rest of their professional lives. Presenting these lessons in an electronic format is probably the best way of reaching as many students as possible, and especially those who feel more comfortable with the electronic than the print book.
This book has been used for more than 50 years, and thus any description would be superfluous. Suffice to say that it is a modern version of the original classic. As its predecessors, this is written for “busy medical students,” and I believe that even the slowest of the slow readers could get through its 900 pages during the first two years of their medical studies. I recommend it to my medical students from the day of our first encounter and later on I keep reminding them to continue reading it. I also add that reading it is the best investment of their time for all three parts of the USMLE and for the rest of their professional lives.
Covering the most important aspects of general and special pathology the book is divided into 24 chapters, all of which have been updated, revised, corrected, and improved wherever needed. The book reads well and it is presented in a very pleasing format, emphasizing the salient features and repeating the key points in the form of boxed summaries. The highlights of each chapter are the schematic color drawings, many of which were newly prepared for this edition.
At the end of each chapter are selected references which are annotated to stimulate curious students to seek out additional in-depth reading.
I read somewhere that the main Robbins & Cotran textbook is the book that most medical students keep on their shelves for life. I grew up reading it and it is still my favorite pathology book. However, let’s be realistic and give our medical students a break — for most of them it would be practically impossible to read the “big Robbins” during their two preclinical year. Thus, we must settle for the second best, and that’s this book. As far as I’m concerned, I would be elated if my students knew even half of what’s in this book. However, I also try to be reasonable, listening to a good friend of mine, who told me in this context to “keep dreaming.” And I do, but still I nudge my students to read it. With all the wisdom and practical knowledge distilled in its pages, how could they bypass it on their way to the clinics; and even later, when it should be part of a learned reflex to revisit it when really tough clinical problems arise? Beautifully produced, masterfully written and edited, critically reshaped and updated for the 21st century, it remains the book of choice for most pathology professors. I see it as an American classic, but also as a modern textbook for new generations of medical students. Highly recommended.
Doody’s Review Service Weighted Numerical Score: 100 – 5 Stars!