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Orthopedic Drill Automatically Measures Depth and Power

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 20 Mar 2019
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Image: The SMARTdrill 6.0 and its GUI (Photo courtesy of Smart Medical Devices).
Image: The SMARTdrill 6.0 and its GUI (Photo courtesy of Smart Medical Devices).
A new surgical drill with a graphical user interface (GUI) provides real-time drill-bit location and drilling data for common orthopedic surgical procedures.

The Smart Medical Devices (SMD; Las Vegas, NV, USA) SMARTdrill 6.0 is a surgical drill accurately measures depth, torque, and energy in real time, improving patient outcomes. The device’s accurate depth measurements eliminate the need for conventional depth gauges that plunge, reduce the number of times x-rays are needed, and enables surgeons to detect impending cortical and joint penetration at varied skive angles without the routine use of fluoroscopy. In addition, it eliminates the wasting of screws that were too long or too short during trial sizing.

A GUI provides convenient visual confirmation of drill performance and location that help the surgeon optimize drill depth, screw selection and insertion, and choice of implant hardware. The drilling energy is displayed in Joules, allowing the surgeon to know exactly how much energy is stored in each screw. As a result, using empirical data stored in the SMD global bone database, the surgical team knows when enough screws have been placed to achieve the construct strength optimal for healing. For those who want to achieve balanced fixation, a simple comparison of the energy stored on each side of the fracture can be calculated.

“As an orthopedic surgeon, I agree that we have a problem with our most basic skill-set of drilling bone and placing screws,” said Mike Karch, MD, co-founder of SMD, and a clinical associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the Georgetown University (Washington, DC, USA) School of Medicine. “The SMARTdrill's innovative technology addresses this problem by providing the surgeon with real-time drilling data to inform their clinical decisions and choice of implant hardware.”

Optimal fixation strength is always achieved with the first screw placed, and screw placement mistakes carry both a financial and biological cost. When a screw needs to be removed and replaced, the pull out strength of the subsequent screw is approximately 13-35% lower, extremely important in osteoporotic bone or in situations where screw placement options are limited. In addition, approximately 30% of all screws placed are mis-measured and must be removed; only half of those screws can be reused in the same surgery, and the rest are discarded.

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