Tunnel Book Review by Colin Howden, Editor, GI and Hepatology News, June 2012

Home of Fred the Snake (and Dr. Peter)

I first met the author of this enjoyable  text in Columbia, South Carolina. We were both attending a meeting of that state’s medical board in order to obtain our full licenses to practice.

Readers of Dr. Cotton’s book will learn that his surgical colleagues in London had presented him with a plaque upon his move to the U.S., which read “This is to certify that Dr.P.B. Cotton has no qualifications.” Clearly, that was not a true statement judging by the large box of framed diplomas and other testimonials that he was able to present to the distinguished board members for their thoughtful consideration.

Dr. Peter B. Cotton is, of course, well known to most readers of this newspaper – by reputation if not through personal association. He has been a leading figure in the development and refinement of gastrointestinal endoscopic practice for most of his career.

The list of trainees who have benefited from his mentorship and support is impressive; many are named and featured in this book. They are now in prominent academic positions throughout North America and beyond. Judging by Dr. Cotton’s anecdotes, they were expected to work hard and play hard – and all clearly enjoyed and gained from the experience.

Dr. Cotton went to medical school and did his postgraduate medical training in the U.K. and moved to the U.S. in 1986.  Given that he has a “foot in both camps,” he is able to make interesting and provocative observations about these two different cultures of health care and medical education.

His career in the U.S. encompassed Duke University and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) – two recognized centers of excellence in the management of gastrointestinal disorders.  At MUSC, Dr. Cotton established the Digestive Disease Center, and he has strong opinions and useful advice about this integrated model for the delivery of care to our patients. Readers will find his views on current and potential training systems to be refreshing and certainly worth careful consideration.

This book is not – and was never intended to be – a formal textbook of endoscopy.  Instead, it is a thoughtful overview of the development and flourishing of gastrointestinal endoscopy from the personal perspective of one of its pioneers. The history is interesting and the personalities involved are treated with respect and gratitude. The anecdotes are amusing and (mostly) kind.

I recommend this book to the readership of GI & HEPATOLOGY NEWS. Importantly, all proceeds from sales go towards the “Peter Cotton Endoscopy Training Fund” at MUSC to support advanced training in therapeutic endoscopy.