Cranial Drilling Tool (via Harvard University)
For those of you still ‘on the ropes’ about drilling into your brain (or some else’s for that matter) and are worried about sustaining a pre-frontal lobotomy, your worries are over thanks to some engineers from Harvard University. The engineers, led by graduate student Paul Loschak, designed their portable handheld Cranial Drilling Tool to drill through the skull and retract once it’s through without damaging the soft tissue under the bone. Their design can be used with different diameter drill bits and uses a ‘dynamic bi-stable mechanism’ that engages and becomes rigid when the drill spins (centrifugal force) and the device encounters a prescribed amount of pressure.
Once that force/pressure is no longer present the drill-bit’s bi-stable mechanism retracts the bit into a plastic sheath that acts as a protective shielding as well as a depth-gauge of sorts. The team tested the design using animal bones and found that it successfully drilled through the bones and withdrew without any damage to the tissues underneath. Once the hole has been drilled the device can then be ‘reset’ to different depth positions in order to drill additional holes. The team states their design can be ‘chucked’ into any standard drill with minimum rotational speed (such as a cordless drill) and can be operated by non-neurosurgical personal to relieve fluid build-up associated with head-trauma which includes those who work in emergency rooms, disaster-relief personnel, as well as military medics with minimal training.
The team states that future revisions of the Cranial Drilling Tool will feature a specified motor (for accurate speed control), an internal battery and use sterile disposable drill-bits to reduce infection. Actual clinical trials are still needed before this device is introduced into respective medical fields. So, don’t expect to see this being used anytime soon.