Florida neurosurgeon Albert Rhoton redefines brain geography in new textbook

More than 600 brain surgeons, assembled at the recent annual meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons in Denver, waited in line for University of Florida neurosurgeon Albert Rhoton Jr., M.D., to sign copies of his new textbook, Cranial Anatomy and Surgical Approaches.

The 746-page volume has been welcomed by neurosurgeons worldwide, because of its usefulness as an updated guide to negotiating and operating on key areas of the brain. Many of the book’s magnified photographs, drawings and computer-enhanced illustrations of selected brain regions with their tributaries of arteries and veins serve as surgical road maps.

Rhoton, now widely recognized as the father of microscopic neurosurgery, autographed the books that share information collected through his lifetime of surgical practice, research and teaching. Most of his work has been accomplished at the UF College of Medicine and UF’s McKnight Brain Institute, where he is a professor and chairman emeritus of neurosurgery.

“The volume represents a 40-plus years’ attempt to gain an understanding of the anatomy and intricacies of the brain with the goal of improving the safety, gentleness and accuracy of my operations on my patients,” Rhoton said.

“The demand for this work is tremendous, and there is no finish line,” he added. “Every time a new advance is made in brain imaging through technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasonic scanning, endoscopy and computer-driven image guidance systems, we need to redefine the anatomy of the areas we see with greater clarity.

“The increasing use of three-dimensional stereo eyeglasses and computer programs that enable us to view the brain in a more realistic 3-D perspective generates more work for us,” Rhoton said. “Almost all the content of our new textbook will be made available in a 3-D format for computer viewing. At the same time, through the courses we teach in our international neurosurgical training lab, we’re generating more and more 3-D brain images.”

The new book, and Rhoton’s two recently published compendiums on the human brain’s supratentorial area and posterior fossa, were produced under the auspices of Neurosurgery, the official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgery. All three are enriched by the artistry of UF medical illustrators David Peace and Robin Barry, who have worked with Rhoton for more than 20 years. Production costs for the latest book are subsidized by educational grants from Carl Zeiss Surgical Inc. and Medtronic Midas Rex.

In a foreword, Los Angeles neurosurgeon Michael L.J. Apuzzo, M.D., editor-in-chief of Neurosurgery, describes Rhoton’s book as a composite classic work that “serves as an example for all of us who would call ourselves neurosurgeons and represents the epitome of the term ‘contribution to the field,’ a notion and goal that is the elusive ‘Holy Grail’ for many of us.”