6. Robotic drill performs skull surgery 50 times faster than standard methodsA computer-driven cranial robotic drill makes cranial surgery 50 times faster than its standard counterpart, according to a new study from the University of Utah.
The University of Utah created a robot drill that could produce fast, clean and safe cuts while reducing open wound time. The robot reduces procedure time from two hours to two and a half minutes.
Surgeons typically have to use a hand drill to carefully drill into the skull, which adds hours to a procedure.
“It was like doing archaeology,” said a neurosurgeon at University of Utah Health William Couldwell in a press release. “We had to slowly take away the bone to avoid sensitive structures.”
Couldwell led a team at the University of Utah to create this drill because the technology already existed, but it just wasn’t being used in the medical industry.
To begin the drilling process, a patient first has to receive a CT scan that gathers bone data and locates sensitive structures in the skull like nerves and major veins and arteries. The information from the CT scan is used to program a cutting path on the drill. The surgeon can choose the best path from different points and can program safety barriers in the cutting path within 1 mm of any structures. The drill then removes most of the bone like a mill in an accurate and rapid manner.
It also has an emergency shut-off switch to turn the robot off if the facial nerve shows any signs of irritation.
The researchers are currently weighing their options to commercialize the drill to make it readily available for more surgical procedures.