In the US, an orthopedic surgeon performs an average of 32 procedures a month, according to Becker's ASC Review. Many of these medical procedures are plate and screw placements that entail bone drilling, and require the use of a depth gauge to determine correct screw lengths. Inaccurate depth measurements can result in incorrect screw lengths and ultimately lead to surgical complications. To prevent this, McGinley Orthopaedic Innovations, LLC, now operating as McGinley Orthopedics, which develops innovative engineering solutions for surgical procedures, sought Speck Design’s medical device design expertise to develop the IntelliSense Drill with depth sensing capabilities.
The first step in creating a tool that combines drilling with depth measuring was to develop a cost and time reducing solution. A typical bone drilling procedure is a 2 step manual process in which 1) the surgeon drills a hole through the bone based on feel, and then 2) inserts a depth gage into the hole to determine the correct depth in which to insert the screw. There is always the risk that the drill plunges too far through the bone, thereby causing damage to the surrounding blood vessels and tissue. In order to achieve the correct depth, the surgeon often attempts the drilling process more than once. The goal of the IntelliSense Drill was to combine the 2 steps into a simple 1 step automated procedure that accurately determines drill bit location.
To fully understand the needs of orthopedic surgeons, our team of researchers observed the use of bone drills across different practices to explore the workflow from preparation to sterilization to disposal. From the research, we observed the ways in which the next generation bone drill could optimize the workflow, and elements that could improve the overall user experience, including the integration of LED lights. These lights illuminate the surgical field and thereby eliminate the presence of shadows that are typically cast by surgeons’ hands and tools from overhead surgical lights.
They have been patented as “In-Sight Surgical Lighting™”. The research results guided the industrial design and mechanical engineering, with a focus around depth measuring, edge detection, and ergonomics. In order to allow for the drill to be lightweight, small, and autoclavable, we designed a separate monitor with touch screen technology that displays precise real-time depth sensing measurements and the ability to change drilling options. In the end, the visual and technical features we added resulted in an all-in-one drill with balanced handle and weight distribution for ultimate comfort.
While features such as the In-Sight Surgical Lighting™ and the lightweight design stand out among many of today’s orthopedic drills, what makes the IntelliSense Drill so unique is its ability to completely eliminate the need for manual depth measuring. Using internal sensor technology and auto-stop features, the IntelliSense Drill monitors drill bit tip location and depth to signal to the surgeon when they have passed through a bony cortex, and the best screw length to use. This ultimately means less surgical time and thereby less cost per patient. As a result, the IntelliSense Drill is transforming the surgeon and patient experience by providing a seamless, accurate, and cost reducing solution that’s making great strides in the world of orthopedics.