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Wilkins B, Wright D. (£65.00.) Cambridge University press, 2000. ISBN 0 521 62227 1.
Illustrated Pathology of the Spleen by Bridget Wilkins and Dennis Wright is a beautiful book. It is a pleasure to hold it and browse through it because of its size, layout, and the quality of the print and figures. But that is only the exterior. At least equally important is the contents. These match the style.
The authors aim with this book to demystify the spleen by putting forward a systematic, analytical approach to the interpretation of splenic pathology. The authors succeed by using numerous illustrations and the book is indeed a combination of an atlas and a textbook.
The book is well written and very readable. Most textbooks are reference works where one can look up a specific problem. This book is also a guide. The problem with splenic pathology is where to start, what to look for. The first two chapters (“Introduction” and “Normal structure, development and functions of the spleen”) serve as a firm basis on which the approach to the study of splenectomy specimens is built. The last chapter (“Summary: some key points in splenic differential diagnosis”) provides an easy approach for some common situations. These three chapters include about 50 pages of text and illustrations and the evening it will cost studying them is a worthwhile investment. The other chapters deal with the disorders expected in the spleen, such as haematopoietic and infectious diseases, but there is also a chapter on post-traumatic and incidentally removed spleens, illustrating the practical approach of the authors.
Are there no complaints? Of course there are a few points that can be made. Not all of the illustrations are perfect; for instance, splenic marginal zone lymphoma, a difficult to recognise lymphoma is not very well illustrated, especially the important low power figure, which is not very informative. The references are well chosen, run into 1998, but the number is rather low. The importance of plasmacytosis (“splenitis”) is not described. Nevertheless, the value of the book clearly outweighs these remarks and the book is recommended for each practising pathologist who occasionally is confronted with splenic pathology and feels uncomfortable when there is histology that does not look familiar.