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First Bedside-ICU Neurosurgical Drill a Game-Changer for Neurosurgeons

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 03 Nov 2023

Historical records show that the practice of burr hole craniotomies has been around for thousands of years. Today, this procedure still holds its place, especially when quick action is needed to relieve high pressure inside the skull due to serious conditions such as traumatic brain injury, a burst aneurysm, or bleeding in the brain. It's surprising to note that in intensive care units, at a patient's bedside, the use of basic, handheld crank drills without an automatic stopping feature is still common. These drills are quite primitive and demand careful handling to avoid damaging the delicate tissues of the dura mater or the brain itself, a risk that remains even for seasoned professionals and occurs in about 2% of cases. Now, a portable cranial access drill that is both effective and safe for helping prevent accidental plunge has been successfully demonstrated for the first time in patients.

Hubly Surgical’s (Lisle, IL, USA) Hubly Drill is the first and only single-use cranial drill with advanced features for safety and efficiency. Its advanced safety features include the SMART Auto-Stop mechanism, a conical drill bit for added safety against over-penetration, and an LED Force Indicator that signals the amount of pressure being applied by changing color, thus giving the user more control. This device is battery-operated and designed for single use, which simplifies the process of drilling burr holes down to a one-handed procedure, enhancing stability and speed while making it easier to use.

Image: Hubly Drill with first-of-its-kind SMART Auto-Stop is designed for use in any setting (Photo courtesy of Hubly Surgical)
Image: Hubly Drill with first-of-its-kind SMART Auto-Stop is designed for use in any setting (Photo courtesy of Hubly Surgical)

In a recent peer-reviewed study, the Hubly cranial access drill with SMART Auto-Stop demonstrated its effectiveness when compared to a non-portable neurosurgical perforator. The study showed that in 174 craniotomies, the Hubly drill’s SMART Auto-Stop function was activated correctly in every instance. Each drill hole was completed in under 30 seconds, which marked an improvement compared to the older, non-portable drill, which failed to complete 5.5% of its perforations. The Hubly Drill, with its SMART Auto-Stop technology, was most recently put into practice for the first time in patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, marking a new step forward for safe and efficient cranial surgery.

"This drill is faster and easier to use than the standard hand-powered drills currently used for emergent bedside procedures," said Dr. Matthew Potts, who performed the very first successful procedure with Hubly Drill, after drilling the hole in 16 seconds—far faster than the average for a hand-crank drill. "This will be a game-changer for neurosurgeons."

"We founded Hubly Surgical out of Northwestern University over four years ago, so it is profoundly fitting that Northwestern Medicine got to be the first in the world to use Hubly Drill in a patient," said CEO Casey Qadir. "This ground-breaking achievement marks a thrilling new chapter in innovative neurosurgical advancements."

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