A robot will soon take part in skull surgery.
A robot will soon take part in skull surgery.
--Image: Bart van Overbeeke, Eindhoven University of Technology.
Let's say the day before you go into the hospital for brain surgery, a doctor informs you that a portion of the procedure will be outsourced to a robot.

    Whether this is good news or horrifying will depend on your point of view. But researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands are working to make it a reality, with a robot that can handle one of the toughest skills involved in skull surgery.
    By way of background: Doctors drill holes in skulls more often than you would like to think. More than 100,000 people undergo procedures that involve getting a hole drilled in the skull each year, and for different reasons, such as treating an infection or placing a hearing implant.
    Hunched over an operating room table, surgeons must work for hours. And it's a risky business too. Along the way, they must not touch facial or taste nerves, the inner ear and the balance organ, according to a news release from the university.
    Jordan Bos, a university graduate who received his doctorate degree earlier this month for the robot he designed and built, observed skull base operations to study the surgery.
    The robot he designed is to be operated at the directions of a surgeon. It is called RoBoSculpt and works with sub-millimeter precision to mill a cavity in the skull. The university describes it as "a very advanced arm, which holds an existing surgical drilling tool."
    Tests on the robot begin this year. The first operation on a human could take place in two to three years, according the university.Becaise the robot is able to work without fatigue, it could shorten the duration of surgery.


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