Scientists have unveiled a robotic surgery drill which can perform complex and sensitive skull drilling procedures 50 times faster than a human.
The Telegraph reports that a new robotic drill can reduce the time needed for sensitive brain surgery from two hours to two and a half minutes. The drill was developed at the University of Utah and may increase the survival rate of patients undergoing brain surgery as the faster operation speed greatly reduces the chance of infection.
The robotic drill has decreased the time it takes to perform one particular complex cranial procedure by up to 50 percent. The drill reportedly produces fast, clean and accurate cuts, helping to reduce both the time the wound is open, and the patient is under anesthetic. This decreases the possibility of error on the part of the surgeon and reduces surgery costs.
During most complex surgeries, surgeons utilize hand operated drills to make openings in the skull, adding hours to delicate operations. A neurosurgeon at the University of Utah, Dr. William Couldwell, said “It was like doing archaeology. We had to slowly take away the bone to avoid sensitive structures. We knew the technology was already available in the machine world, but no one ever applied it to medical applications.”
The new robot procedure will require patients to undergo a CT scan to map the exact location of sensitive structures such as nerves, veins, and arteries that must be avoided by the drill. Dr. A.K. Balaji, who worked on the drill, said “The software lets the surgeon choose the optimum path from point A to point B, like Google Maps. Think of the barriers like a construction zone. You slow down to navigate it safely.” However, the drill has yet to be tested on a human patient.