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When a pediatrician encounters a child with recurrent abdominal pain, headache, leg aches, or a multitude of other common problems, he faces some frustrating dilemmas. Should he arrange for a profusion of expensive tests to rule out the textbook conditions which have their pathophysiology clearly delineated but are rather unlikely to be the cause? After looking through his pediatric texts he may still not know what the common causes are and how they should be evaluated and managed. Then, if results from all the laboratory tests prove to be normal, would his best course be to reassure the parents and discharge the patient, or should he refer the youngster to a child psychiatrist?
In a noteworthy book, the second edition of The Child and His Symptoms, two master pediatric clinicians, John Apley and Ronald MacKeith, have presented a wealth of clinical information so that the reader will be prepared to