Innovation of the Week

This robot is really good at drilling tiny holes into human skulls

And that's a good thing!

Robot at work.

Surgeons have a new helper: a robot that's been "perfectly designed to drill tiny tunnels in your skull," said Rachel Feltman at Popular Science.

Each year, some 65,000 people with hearing difficulties receive cochlear implants, devices that transmit sound from an external microphone to the patient's auditory nerve. To install an implant, surgeons must drill "a 2.5-millimeter-wide tunnel through a chunk of skull surrounded by facial and taste nerves," a risky procedure that often results in patients losing some residual hearing.

To minimize accidental damage, researchers at Switzerland's University of Bern have developed a robotic surgical assistant that can drill with remarkable accuracy, straying as little as 0.4 mm off target during 99.7 percent of procedures.

Courtesy image.

The bot has assisted with four implant operations since last summer; with more fine-tuning, doctors say, it could potentially be used in brain surgery.

Recommended

10 things you need to know today: September 23, 2021
Pfizer vaccine
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 23, 2021

The case for medical price fixing
Pills.
Picture of Ryan CooperRyan Cooper

The case for medical price fixing

FDA authorizes Pfizer booster shots for seniors and high-risk individuals
Pfizer vaccine doses.
vaccination nation

FDA authorizes Pfizer booster shots for seniors and high-risk individuals

When the Ivy League acts like Bob Jones University
Brown and Bob Jones logos.
Picture of Bonnie KristianBonnie Kristian

When the Ivy League acts like Bob Jones University

Most Popular

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights
Editorial Cartoon.
Feature

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?
Elizabeth Holmes and James Mattis.
Samuel Goldman

Did Theranos Lose Afghanistan?

Feds charge 2 GOP operatives with funneling Russian's money to Trump campaign
Ron Paul and Jesse Benton
Loose ends

Feds charge 2 GOP operatives with funneling Russian's money to Trump campaign