Robotic surgical drill works up to 50 times faster than hand drills

Posted at 9:14 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 21:14:13-04

(RNN) - One complex surgery cut on human skulls can be done up to 50 times faster with a new computer-driven automated drill.

The standard procedure is for surgeons to use hand drills and requires two hours rather than the 2.5 minutes of the robotic drill. 

Researchers at the University of Utah reported on their drill in the May 1 Journal of Neurosurgery.

The researchers say the new drill will reduce the time a patient's wound is open and the patient is anesthetized. 

They say quicker surgeries reduce the rates of infections, human error and surgical cost.

Using hand drills to make the intricate openings for cranial surgeries adds hours to procedures. 

"It was like doing archaeology," said William Couldwell, a neurosurgeon at the University of Utah. 

Couldwell said the drill can be used for other surgeries, such as machining the perfect receptacle opening in the bone for a hip implant. 

The team that developed the drill was led by Couldwell and included people with expertise in mechanical engineering and writing software. 

Before surgery, doctors use CT scans to program the drill's cutting path. The doctor stands by while the robotic drill mills through bone. 

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