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Biographical entry Sneath, Rodney Saville (1925 - 2005)

MRCS 1948; FRCS 1958; MB ChB Sheffied 1957; LRCP 1948.

Sheffield, Yorkshire, UK
1 April 2005
Orthopaedic surgeon


Rodney Sneath was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham and a pioneer in limb salvage surgery for patients with bone tumours. He was born in Sheffield, the son of Ernest Saville Sneath, a master printer, who owned the ‘Saville Press’. His mother was Dorothy Unwin. He was educated at Chesterfield Grammar School and Sheffield University, where he qualified with the conjoint diploma in 1948, acquiring the MB ChB in 1957. He had a wide range of interests at university, including rugby, rock climbing, gliding and motor sport. In 1952 he took part in the Monte Carlo rally with his father and was the first of the private competitors to finish.

During his National Service in the RAMC he was stationed in Austria, and became an accomplished skier, an interest he pursued well into his seventies. After demobilisation and the acquisition of the FRCS in 1958 he began orthopaedic training at St George’s Hospital and later at the Royal National Orthopaedic and its associated hospitals.

He was appointed a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham, in 1965, where he developed an interest in the treatment of malignant musculo-skeletal tumours. In collaboration with John Scales at the RNOH he established what became an internationally recognised unit for the treatment of bone tumours, and together they made many innovations, including a ‘growing prosthesis’ for use in children.

He was a founder member of the European Musculo-Skeletal Oncology Society and a Fellow of the British Orthopaedic Association. Among many invited lectures he gave a Hunterian lecture on ‘the treatment of malignant bone tumours in children’ in 1993. He died on 1 April 2005, leaving a wife, Ann, and five children.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Mrs Ann Sneath].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England