A sensory-guided surgical micro-drill

R. Taylor, X. Du, D. Proops, A. Reid, C. Coulson, P.N. Brett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article describes a surgical robotic device that is able to discriminate tissue interfaces and other controlling parameters ahead of the drill tip. The advantage in such a surgery is that the tissues at the interfaces can be preserved. A smart tool detects ahead of the tool point and is able to control the interaction with respect to the flexing tissue, to avoid penetration or to control the extent of protrusion with respect to the position of the tissue. For surgical procedures, where precision is required, the tool offers significant benefit. To interpret the drilling conditions and the conditions leading up to breakthrough at a tissue interface, a sensing scheme is used that discriminates between the variety of conditions posed in the drilling environment. The result is a fully autonomous system, which is able to respond to the tissue type, behaviour, and deflection in real-time. The system is also robust in terms of disturbances encountered in the operating theatre. The device is pragmatic. It is intuitive to use, efficient to set up, and uses standard drill bits. The micro-drill, which has been used to prepare cochleostomies in the theatre, was used to remove the bone tissue leaving the endosteal membrane intact. This has enabled the preservation of sterility and the drilling debris to be removed prior to the insertion of the electrode. It is expected that this technique will promote the preservation of hearing and reduce the possibility of complications. The article describes the device (including simulated drill progress and hardware set-up) and the stages leading up to its use in the theatre.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1531-1537
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Mechanical Engineering Science: Proceedings, part C
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

© Sage 2018. The final publication is available via Sage at http://dx.doi.org/10.1243/09544062JMES1933


  • flexible tissue
  • robotics
  • sensory-guided
  • surgical


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