EK -- Medicine

Pschyrembel, Klinisches Wörterbuch [Pschyrembel, Clinical Dictionary]. Ed. Publisher’s Dictionary Editing Team. 259th, newly rev. ed. Berlin [et al.]: de Gruyter, 2002. xxiii, 1,842 p. ill. 22 cm. ISBN 3-11-016522-8 (book): EUR 19.95; ISBN 3-11-016523-6 (CD-ROM): EUR 39.95; ISBN 3-11-017213-5 (book and CD-ROM): EUR 58 [04-1-393]

Springer-Lexikon Medizin: Medizin zum Begreifen nah [Springer Dictionary of Medicine: Focus on Medicine]. P. Reuter. Berlin; Heidelberg [et al.]: Springer, 2004. xi, 2,382 p. 25 cm. ISBN 3-540-20412-1: EUR 29.95 [04-1-394]

Der Brockhaus, Gesundheit: Krankheiten erkennen, verstehen und heilen [Brockhaus Health: Recognizing, Understanding, and Curing Diseases]. Ed. F. A. Brockhaus Dictionary Editing Team. 6th ed. Mannheim; Leipzig: Brockhaus, [2003]. 1,347 p. ill. 25 cm. (Brockhaus-Sachlexika). ISBN 3-7653-1576-1: EUR 49.90 [04-1-395]

For the past 110 years the Pschyrembel has dominated the field of medical dictionaries. Springer-Lexikon-Medizin is a new publication intended to compete in this arena. Brockhaus, Gesundheit has been updated in this 6th edition. This abstract provides a comparison of these three medical dictionaries.

In keeping with its subtitle of clinical dictionary, Pschyrembel focuses on the clinical and practice-oriented aspects of medicine with an estimated 40,000 entries spread over more than 1,800 pages. Some 1,500 to 2,000 illustrations and 250 plus tables complement these entries. Springer-Lexikon Medizin contains 80,000 entries on 2,400 pages, including 2,800 color illustrations and tables and 44 detailed essays on current topics in medicine. Brockhaus, Gesundheit, on the other hand, contains only 16,000 entries and 2,000 illustrations on 1,300 pages. However, tables of symptoms facilitate self-diagnosis and 600 informational boxes provide behavior tips. Besides a separate chapter on first aid, there are 27 detailed articles on specific topics.

Comparison of the treatment of a couple of entries will illustrate differences in the approaches of these three titles. Under the acronym ADS, "Aufmerksamskeitdefi zit," Pschyrembel refers to the newer designation of the disease "Aufmerksamskeitdefizit-/ Hyperaktivitätsstörung (ADHS)" [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—ADHD], for coverage but does not list the newer acronym, ADHS, itself. The article discusses behavioral and pharmacological therapies, but does not mention alternative methods. Under ADS in the Springer-Lexikon Medizin one finds references to "antidiuretische Substanz" [antidiuretic substance] and "Antidonor-Serum" [antidonor serum], but no reference to ADHS, either as an acronym or to other headings for a description of the disease. To read about ADHD, one has to know to go to the entry, "Aufmerksamskeits- und Hyperaktivitätsstörung," to find a further reference to "Störung mit Aufmerksamskeitsdefizit bei Hyperaktivität," which is a less common term. Once there, however, one finds useful information, including the fact that considerable debate now surrounds the use of neuroleptic agents in the treatment of ADHD. Brockhaus, Gesundheit provides no access under the acronyms ADS or ADHS and no information under "Aufmerksamskeitsdefizit or Hyperaktivitätat." However, the article on "Hyperkinetisches Syndrom" [hyperkinetic syndrome] provides more detailed information than that provided by the other two titles on the cause, diagnosis, and treatment of ADHD.

The three titles also differ in their coverage of diabetes mellitus. Springer-Lexikon Medizin devotes a three-page detailed essay to diabetes mellitus, illustrated with tables and diagrams. Pschyrembel covers the topic in just one and a half columns, but uses a more precise etiological classification of the disease. Brockhaus, Gesundheit contains a four-page special article on diabetes, illustrated with a color photograph of dry gangrene, but does not include a classification scheme for the disease.


entries are concise, precise, and reliable; they contain extensive facts and information on diagnosis and treatment, and most known human diseases are covered. This reference work is aimed at physicians, healthcare providers, and medical students. The lay reader will need some knowledge of medical terminology, as lay terms are not used. The Springer-Lexikon Medizin is notable for the wealth of information it provides, going far beyond clinical topics to include detailed treatments of current topics (e.g., SARS, cloning) as well as the expected traditional subjects. In this respect the Springer-Lexikon Medizin outdoes its competitors, but, unlike Pschyrembel, it does not provide the etymological details that help make the terms more easily understandable. Brockhaus, Gesundheit, on the other hand, cannot compete in the number of entries; instead its purpose is to offer practical information for lay readers. It includes tables of symptoms to facilitate self-diagnosis (a step not favored by physicians) as well as a list of approximately 30 important Internet links that can be accessed for more detailed information on selected topics at http://www.brockhaus.de/sachlexika/gesundheit. [Ed. note: This URL gets one just to the publisher’s announcement of the book. In the right-hand column is the link "Weblinks zum Thema," which leads to the set of Internet links mentioned above.]

In short, all three titles can be recommended for their layout, illustrations, and ease of use. Each is intended for a particular audience of users, but their coverage often overlaps, making them complementary, not exclusionary. [jr/jb]

Bertelsmann, Das grosse Gesundheitslexikon [Bertelsmann’s Comprehensive Dictionary of Health]. Ed. Ulrike Haufe-Künkler. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann-Lexikon-Institut; München: Wissen-Media-Verlag, 2005. 767 p. ill. 27 cm. ISBN 3-577-10373-6: EUR 29.95 [05-1-258]

This dictionary of medical and health-related terms contains some 12,000 entries with around a thousand illustrations. In addition, there are 40 two-page articles focusing on special topics, although, inexplicably, diabetes mellitus is omitted despite its prevalence in industrialized western society.

Entries with an associated illustration are indicated by a symbol. The illustrations, however, are not always wisely chosen. Instead of a functional diagram, a photograph of an acrobatic group is used to illustrate the entry on the shoulder joint, while a picture of The Three Tenors accompanies the entry on nodules of the vocal cords. Also, the articles are often too brief to include important details, e.g., the carcinogenic elements in tobacco. And sometimes they even include incorrect information, as in the blanket statement that coffee raises cholesterol levels, whereas only co?ee still containing its oil has been shown to have this effect.

Bertelsmann’s dictionary may serve to stir one’s curiosity about medical and health-related topics, but one may want to turn to other resources, like the 2004 Springer-Lexikon Medizin (see RREA 11:219) to satisfy that curiosity. [jr/jb]

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