John W. Stirling, Alan Curry and Brian Eyden Diagnostic Electron Microscopy – A Practical Guide to Interpretation and Technique (RMS – Royal Microscopical Society) John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, UK, 2013. 468 pages. Price £71.25 (Hardback, Amazon). ISBN 978-1-119-97399-7


I first came across a pre-publication copy of this book at a conference on a trade stand and instantly knew that I wanted to read it from just having a quick flick through. This new and exciting book covers a wide range of the most common areas in diagnostic pathology at the ultrastructural level, including chapters on muscle, nerve and CADASIL. There are also extremely informative and helpful chapters about the practicalities of processing, cutting and viewing different types of specimen.

Each chapter is written by specialists in that particular field. The book itself has a very pleasing lay out and text which is clear, flowing and easily accessible. The electron micrographs are numerous and high in quality, with clear and concise figure legends which are well referenced within the main body of the text. It is easy to dip in and out of and find the particular area of interest.

The editors of this book state that they have not attempted to reproduce previous encyclopaedic texts of TEM in diagnostic pathology. However for a relatively small book a lot of ground is covered. Chapters cover the ultrastructural pathology of renal disease, transplant renal biopsies, skeletal muscle, nerve, tumours, microbial ultrastructure, ciliary disorders and sperm centriolar abnormalities, lysosomal storage diseases, CADASIL, platelet disorders, congenital dyserythropoietic anaemia types I and II, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and occupational and environmental lung disease. I like the fact that where appropriate many of the chapters start by describing and illustrating ‘normal’ tissue, something you never normally see in diagnostic electron microscopy.

The book also covers the practical aspects of electron microscopy, including how to cut up and process samples in order to gain the maximum amount of information from them. Detailed protocols are included and, having had to do TEM on a histological section on a slide for the first time recently, I can speak from experience and say that the protocols are clear, easy to follow and really do work. There is also a section on trouble shooting problems with sectioning of blocks which is useful, and a discussion of hot topics in modern diagnostic electron microscopy. This includes chapters covering digital imaging in diagnostic EM, the uncertainly of measurement and the impact of microwave technology and telemicroscopy.

From a neuropathological point of view the CADASIL chapter provides a logical and practical approach for how to screen the sample for the presence of the classical GOM deposits that confirm a positive diagnosis of CADASIL. The electron micrographs in this chapter show clear examples of the GOM deposits and also show that they should not be confused with other non-specific electron dense deposits often see in samples that are submitted as possible CADASIL.

The chapters on skeletal muscle and nerve cover 64 pages in total and give a good but brief overview of these tissues. The chapters cover practical aspects of how to handle and process these tissues, the ultrastructure of normal tissue, possible artefacts, and pathological changes.

The chapter on lysosomal storage diseases is particularly useful for those rare occasions when you see them in clinical practice. The chapter provides a good overview of these diseases, the majority of which have CNS involvement. The chapter contains an array of electron micrographs demonstrating the ultrastructural findings of some of these diseases in skin biopsies, which are the most cost effective first line diagnostic tool in these cases.

Overall I feel that this book is a valuable and useful addition to the bookshelf of anyone involved in electron microscopy who works in a diagnostic setting, be they an electron microscopist or a pathologist. It covers a lot of ground in just 468 pages. Priced at £71.25 (, it offers excellent value for money. This book is also available as a kindle edition with a price of £49.88 ( The clear explanations, electron micrographs and practical advice (that really works) make this a good all round diagnostic EM reference book. I would highly recommend it.