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Surgeons test experimental drill on brain tumor surgery

Researchers have designed a new surgical drill that could one day aid brain surgeons in New Jersey during the lengthy process of opening skulls. Delicate work that requires a surgeon to focus for at least two hours could be reduced to minutes with the use of the drill.

The collaboration of a surgeon and a mechanical engineer resulted in a technique that maps a patient's skull with a CT scan and then feeds the information into software that runs the drill. The surgeon programs in safety barriers around delicate tissues. If the drill approaches a barrier, it automatically shuts off.

The research team performed a successful test on a surgery that removed a benign tumor from the region of the acoustic nerve. Thousands of people every year need these types of tumors removed. The surgery, known as a translabyrinthine procedure, presents challenges such as navigating facial nerves and the large venous sinus that moves blood from the brain. On surgeries like this, the drill could reduce costs, infections and surgical errors.

Mistakes that are made during surgery represent a common source of medical malpractice lawsuits. A patient who has been harmed by a surgical error may want to have an attorney review the case to see if the evidence meets the legal standards necessary to support a medical malpractice lawsuit. In order to prevail, the plaintiff's attorney will have to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the jury that the error represented a failure by the practitioner to exhibit the requisite standard of care, and the attorney will in most cases obtain the opinion testimony of one or more medical experts.

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