New Robotic Drill Performs Brain Surgery 50 Times Faster

Posted: May 1 2017, 2:39pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

New Robotic Drill Performs Brain Surgery 50 Times Faster
Credit: University of Utah

The automated robotic drill could reduce a surgical procedure from two hours to two and a half minute

Researchers from University of Utah have created an automatic robotic drill that can do a complex skull surgery in less than three minutes. That’s 50 times faster than the standard procedures. Even the most advanced techniques today require minimum two hours to perform a brain surgery.

Since the latest instrument significantly reduces the time the wound is open, it will reduce the risk of infection and boost the chances of patient's survival.

Brain surgery is a delicate process that needs to be executed flawlessly. To perform complex surgeries, especially the skull procedures, surgeons typically apply hand-held drills. These drills are used to cut openings in the skull bone. Because skull is such a difficult area to see and reach, holes has to be clean and accurate, which adds more hours to the procedure.

“It was like doing archaeology,” said William Couldwell, a neurosurgeon at University of Utah. “We had to slowly take away the bone to avoid sensitive structures.”

New device has a potential to alleviate the burden and to improve the way surgical procedures are performed these days.

“We knew the technology was already available in the machine world, but no one ever applied it to medical applications.” Couldwell said.

Not only does a drill was developed for surgical purposes but also software that can set the path for safe cutting.

Using a CT scan, the device first images the bone structure and the exact location for opening. Then, this information will be used to determine the cutting path of the drill. More importantly, it ensures that nerves, major veins and arteries must not be damaged during the drilling process. For this purpose, the device has an automatic emergency shut-off switch. If the drill gets too close to the sensitive feature, it automatically switches off. A surgeon can also turn off the machine at any time during the procedure.

“The software lets the surgeon choose the optimum path from point A to point B, like Google Maps,” said mechanical engineer A.K. Balaji. “In addition, the surgeon can program safety barriers along the cutting path within 1 mm of sensitive structures. Think of the barriers like a construction zone. You slow down to navigate it safety.”

When the new drill was applied to open holes in a complex jigsaw-like shape that circumnavigates the ear, it showed promising results. The task was completed more rapidly and accurately without compromising safety.

The drill is not specifically designed to perform skull surgeries. It can be applied to many other surgical procedures.

Couldwell says. “This drill can be used for a variety of surgeries, like machining the perfect receptacle opening in the bone for a hip implant.”

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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