The Life of Dr. Albert Rhoton

By Nelson M. Oyesiku, MD, PhD, FACS, Editor-in-Chief, NEUROSURGERY PUBLICATIONS.

Professor Rhoton gave neurosurgery a unique eternal gift – a window into the brain that provides surgeons with the roadmap to make surgery precise, gentle and safe (I am paraphrasing his words). Many man (and woman) hours went into its making; it was literally his life’s work. Even the uninitiated will appreciate the sheer beauty and majesty of the intricate relationships revealed in the dissections laid out in exquisitely faithful detail under the surgical microscope. One may even be tempted to undertake the rigorous training and life-long learning to have the privilege to operate on our greatest organ. There is not a neurosurgeon who has not seen a Rhoton illustration or a photograph; indeed it is quite impossible to complete neurosurgical training without it, it would be like traveling without a passport or setting off on a journey of exploration without a compass—you simply could not (and should not) do it. Professor Rhoton indeed thought so, and now this reprint recharges the supply chain; it will be one of many more to keep this legacy alive for future generations. Use it for the benefit of your patients to make their surgery more precise, gentler, and safer.

A word about Dr Rhoton: he was born on November 18, 1932, in Parvin, Kentucky. He grew up in a log cabin without plumbing or electricity in rural eastern Kentucky. He attended the Washington University School of Medicine, where he graduated top of the class of 1959 and then began surgical training at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, and returned to Washington University to complete his neurosurgery residency at Barnes Hospital under Dr. Henry Schwartz in 1964. He undertook a one-year NIH research fellowship in neuroanatomy during which he was introduced to the surgical microscope and its potential to transform surgical anatomy and technique which laid the foundation for his life’s work.

Rhoton began as a consultant neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1966. He left for the University of Florida in 1972 to take the position as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery. He became the R.D. Keene Family Professor of Neurosurgery in 1981.

He taught his courses to over 1,000 neurosurgeons and residents who visited UF and in turn disseminated their knowledge to students and physicians in Asia, Africa, Europe and North and South America. Many of his international research fellows went on to lead departments and societies in their home countries, continuing his teaching legacy. He also developed more than 200 neurosurgical instruments.

Professor Rhoton served as the President of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS), and the North American Skull Base Society (NASBS), among many others. Dr. Rhoton was recipient of the Medal of Honor of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) and the Cushing Medical of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He was renowned and revered all over the world.

Dr Rhoton died in Gainesville, Florida, on February 21, 2016, at the age of 83.

Rhoton’s Cranial Anatomy and Surgical Approaches has been reissued for a new generation of technical excellence. Get your copy here, with 30% off until the end of November 2019 using code NEURO30 at the checkout.

Explore our Neurosurgery Spotlight until the end of November 2019, featuring free to read chapters from our best Neurosurgery books.