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How a new robotic drill may help reduce surgical error

Technological advances are coming to save the world from a decades-old dilemma involving how to reduce the incidence rate of surgical errors according to researchers with the University of Utah. In a study published on May 1, 2017 in the Journal of Neurosurgery, researchers outlined how they had determined that not only time could be saved, but that also human medical error could be reduced just by utilizing computer-propelled, robotic drills as opposed to hand ones.

Their research found that a robotic drill takes a mere 2.5 minutes to do the same job a rotary one would do in two hours. Because this technological advancement greatly reduces the amount of time a patient is left under anesthesia and that their wound is left open, it has the potential to reduce infection rates, surgical costs and incidence rates of human error.

Aside from speeding up the bone cutting process, robotic drills also allow doctors to make much more precise cuts. While this is of great importance to neurosurgeons looking to carve out more intricate types of openings necessary to carry out cranial surgeries, it also stands to improve the way surgeries in other areas are carried out as well. For example, a robotic saw may be particularly helpful in cutting out a necessary space in the bone into which a hip implant can ultimately be placed.

This robotic saw that these researchers came up with is the result of a collaborative efforts between medical professionals, mechanical engineers and software writers. In this case, doctors rely upon the use of CT scans to direct the robotic drill's path as it cuts through the patient's bone. Doctors stand off to the side as this occurs.

The emergence of this technology is promising, at the very least because of the potential it has for reducing a patient's chance of suffering surgical complications. At the same time, in bringing in technology into the operating room, it opens patients up to added vulnerabilities as well. For example, technology has a tendency to malfunction. This may ultimately result in Tucson medical malpractice attorneys taking on not just doctors, but software designers or engineers down the road as well.

Source: Tucson News Now, "Robotic drill speeds up surgical cuts," May 04, 2017

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