The potential of haptic interface drills in spine surgery


Tools with haptic interfaces can be an efficient tool for preventing complications when drilling into the bone near spinal nerves and organs, a study in Scientific Reports found.

Researchers used a prototype high-speed drill with a haptic interface to detect penetration into the posterior lamina of pigs and measured reaction time and depth. Bone drilling is common in spine surgery, and complications such as spinal cord injury or dural lacerations can happen, reserachers said in the study published Jan. 12. 

Past reports found dural lacerations, which are often caused by bone drilling, can happen in 2 percent to 13 percent of cases. The incidence of intraoperative complications is inversely related to a surgeon's years of experience, other studies found, researchers said.

The prototype drill was tested against a drill without the function, the report said. Researchers saw "statistically significant differences in the average reaction time and the distance travelled after penetration between a handheld drill and the drill with the penetration detection function."

Researchers concluded that "a prototype high-speed drill with a haptic interface successfully detected the penetration of the porcine posterior lamina more accurately and more reproducibly than experienced spine surgeons." They also said that integrations of haptic technology could have further applications in robotics and telesurgery.

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