Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Roydhouse, Noel (1925 - 1999)

VRD 1968; MB ChB New Zealand 1949; FRCS 1954; FRACS 1963; ChM Otago 1970.

17 December 1925
Dunedin, New Zealand
6 April 1999
Auckland, New Zealand
ENT surgeon


Noel Roydhouse was an ENT surgeon at the Middlemore Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand. He served in the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve, achieving the rank of surgeon captain, and, as an enthusiastic sports medicine physician and scuba diver, he became an expert in underwater ear and nose care. He wrote manuals for scuba divers in which he described the 'Roydhouse manoeuvre' - a combination of contraction of the levator palati and the tensor palati muscles, that raise up and tilt forwards the uvula, with tensing of the muscles of the tongue in such a way as to effect the crackling sensation of the Eustachian tube opening.

Roydhouse was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, on 17 December 1925, the sixth of seven children born to Arthur Payton Roydhouse, a pioneer organiser of physical education in Otago, and Dorothy Roydhouse née Booth. He was educated at Otago Boys' High School, where he was dux (top pupil), and Dunedin Medical School, University of Otago.

After house posts and an appointment as registrar and assistant lecturer in ENT at Dunedin Hospital and Otago Medical School, Roydhouse went to the UK in 1952. He was an ENT registrar in Southampton and then went to the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in London to study for the FRCS.

On his return to New Zealand, Roydhouse developed a successful ENT practice, firstly at Green Lane Hospital, Auckland and later at Middlemore Hospital, where he set up a new ENT department and remained in charge until his retirement in 1995. During this time he established community ear clinics in South Auckland. He was befriended by his polymath ENT colleague, Patrick William Eisdell Moore, who regularly referred to him as 'Royd-Hound'.

In 1970, he wrote a seminal paper entitled 'A controlled study of adenotonsillectomy' in which he found that children with marked susceptibility to respiratory tract infection benefitted from a reduction in throat illness and otitis media (Arch Otolaryngol. 1970 Dec;92[6]:611-6). This work formed the basis of his ChM awarded the same year. In 1974 Roydhouse was an ENT surgeon in a New Zealand surgical team in Vietnam.

Noel was an enthusiastic scuba diver and wrote Scuba diving and the ear, nose and throat (Auckland, 1975) and Underwater care of the ears and nose (Auckland, 1981). His other sporting activities included gymnastics, jogging, the javelin, rugby, cricket, sailing, rifle-shooting, squash and, in particular, basketball, at which he represented New Zealand Universities and New Zealand from 1947 to 1948. He became national secretary, then treasurer, of the New Zealand Federation of Sports Medicine and was founding editor of the New Zealand Journal of Sports Medicine (from 1973 to 1993). He was also a longstanding member of the British Association of Sports Medicine.

Noel Roydhouse was president of the New Zealand Medical Association (in 1995), and was president of both the New Zealand League for the Hard of Hearing and the Hearing Association, Auckland (from 1985 to 1988). On his retirement, the New Zealand Society of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery instituted the Noel Roydhouse oration.

His colleagues remember him for his encyclopaedic memory of things professional, and for his critical appraisals of much published and unpublished work through his own clinical research. He worked tirelessly for the hearing impaired in every position and through every route available to him. One of his proudest achievements was a law change so that people with hearing impairment could obtain unrestricted driving licences.

In 1954 he married Patricia D Mabel Marshall. They had four children, the first of whom, Michael Noel, sadly lived only 59 days. Their other children were Trevor Bruce, Wendy Patricia and Andrew Marshall. Noel Roydhouse divorced in 1978 and in February 1986 married Naomi Frances Smith, who had three daughters from a previous marriage. Noel Roydhouse died on 6 April 1999. He was 73.

Neil Weir
William Tucker
Ronald Goodey
Tony Roydhouse

Sources used to compile this entry: [New Zealand Medical Journal 23 June 2000 p.201-2].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England