Cranial Drilling Tool

Harvard University, 2012 - $18,500

It is often necessary for neurosurgeons to access the inside of the skull through small holes for procedures such as measuring pressure and draining fluid. Unfortunately, the current procedures are difficult to accomplish easily and safely. One of the main risks in cranial drilling is “plunging”—accidentally driving the drill bit into delicate brain tissue. Current drills do have safety features, but all have their drawbacks; the most versatile is a hand-powered drill with a manual stop that is inefficient in cutting through bone and hard for surgeons to use effectively. There are also powered drills, but the most popular device has to be accompanied by non-portable equipment and is limited to large drill bit sizes.

This E-Team has developed a handheld, portable, and reliably safe drilling device that can create holes in the skull with any size drill bit. The device is designed to be non-reliant on the drill's rotary motion, instead using a balance between spring forces and the reaction forces of the drill being pushed against the skull. The device also retracts as soon as penetration of the skull is accomplished. The device's portability and ease of use makes it well suited for applications in operating rooms, emergency rooms, military settings, and disaster relief areas.