Edited by: Hans H. Goebel, Caroline A. Sewry and Roy O. Weller Muscle Disease: Pathology and Genetics, Second Edition International Society of Neuropathology, Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, 2013. Hardcover: 392 pages. Price £183.60. Kindle Edition: £128.52 (amazon.co.uk). ISBN-13: 978-0470672051


This comprehensive hardback book is divided into 17 sections and has 62 highly regarded contributors from around the world. The book is well bound with 360 tactile pages and a 15 page index. The introductory chapter neatly describes the internal structure of a muscle fibre. The first section is in turn introductory, with chapters on basic pathology, clinical features and neuromuscular genetics.

The remaining 15 sections are focused upon different functional elements of the muscle fibre, as described in the introduction: for example, the sarcolemma, mitochondria and cytoplasmic proteins. Each section is then divided into chapters, usually multiple, such that the sarcolemmal section, for example, contains 4 chapters on dystrophin and the associated glycoprotein complex, proteins of the extracellular matrix, plasma membrane and sarcolemmal ion channels. Each chapter produces a useful overview of structurally-related muscle diseases, including clinically-relevant information, and often MRI images. Histopathological and other images are clearly produced in colour and well annotated, and there is a realistic representation of electron microscopy. Each chapter is authored by a relevant expert in the field, and the chapters are well edited, they feel like a cohesive body of work.

The book certainly has met one of its challenges, to assemble ‘a coherent text that reflects the mood of this rapidly changing field of medical science’. Its purpose is to offer the reader ‘a modern view of the pathology and genetics of muscle disease’ that integrates across the relevant clinical and scientific specialties. It certainly achieves this objective. By including chapters on myasthenic syndromes and the breadth of acquired inflammatory and toxic conditions, the editors have reflected the body of neuromuscular disease, and have been more inclusive than perhaps other texts. This book is useful as a supportive text or reference but I wouldn't reach for it while trying to interpret a muscle biopsy. It is not a diagnostic manual.

The rate of advancement of knowledge relating to neuromuscular disease is such that providing a printed, up-to-date tome is, in reality, no longer viable. This is acknowledged by the editors, who guide the reader to the best of online resources. It would be a brave (misguided) clinician or scientist who sought out these websites without first grappling with the foundations of neuromuscular genetics and pathology. This text performs this role admirably.