Northwestern University student invents battery-powered brain drill used in surgery

The battery-powered device is designed to be a faster, safer way to create holes in patient's skulls during emergency operations

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Tuesday, March 12, 2024
Battery powered brain drill used in surgery at Northwestern Medicine
The Hubly drill, a bedside neurosurgical device with automatic features, was used for the first time during a brain operation.

CHICAGO -- An invention by a Northwestern University student is changing the way doctors perform brain surgery.

Created by Casey Qadir, CEO of Hubly Surgical, and neurosurgeon Dr. Amit Ayer, the "Hubly drill" is a battery-powered device designed to be a faster, safer way to create holes in patient's skulls during emergency operations.

The Hubly drill is unique because it has a mechanism that automatically stops the drill once it breaks through the skull.

Before this invention, some of the most frequent neurosurgical procedures were performed with a hand crank drill.

Qadir spoke to our sister station WLS on Monday to explain why it was so important to develop a modernized version of the drill.

"With this hand crank drill, it's possible to accidentally plunge into the patient's brain. Amit and I believed that to be an unacceptable standard of care, so we developed the Hubly drill to safely stop automatically when it breaks through the skull," Qadir said.

The device has more user control elements to make it even safer, like a light on the back of the drill that turns colors to measure the amount of force being used.

The Hubly drill was recently used in the operating room for the first time by Northwestern Medicine neurosurgeon Dr. Matthew Potts.

Potts said that the Hubly drill solved many of the problems he had faced when previously using the hand crank drill.