I’ve checked, and most prefaces to a third edition or later start
out with something like, “It’s hard to believe that this is the third
edition of…” Not this text. I know how much work it’s taken,
so I definitely can believe it. But thank you if you have contrib-
uted in any way, including reading this preface, to the success
of this book.
In the first edition, I asked you to suppose for a moment
that your natural curiosity drove you to wonder what kind of
bird with a red beak just landed on your window sill. You could
get a book on birds that listed all of them alphabetically from
albatross to woodpecker and spend time looking through hundreds
of bird pictures. Or you could get a book that lists birds by the
colors of their beaks and thumb through a much shorter list to
find that your feathered visitor is a cardinal.
This book is a red beak book. Where possible, groups of
diseases are first described by the way they look rather than by
what they’re called. Imaging diagnoses frequently, but not
always, rest on a recognition of a reproducible visual picture of
that abnormality. That is called the pattern recognition approach
to identifying abnormalities, and the more experience you have
looking at imaging studies, the more comfortable and confident
you’ll be with that approach.
Before diagnostic images can help you decide what disease
the patient may have, you must first be able to differentiate
between what is normal in appearance and what is not. That
isn’t as easy as it may sound. Recognizing the difference between
normal and abnormal probably takes as much practice, if not
more, than deciding what disease a person has.
Radiologists spend their entire lives performing just such
differentiations. You won’t be a radiologist after you’ve com-
pleted this book, but you should be able to recognize abnor-
malities and interpret images better and, by so doing, perhaps
participate in the care of patients with more assurance and