Surgical drilling of curved holes in bone–a patent review

Alexander Sendrowicz*, Marta Scali, Costanza Culmone, Paul Breedveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Conventional surgical drills are rigid straight instruments used to make holes in bones. They lack the ability to follow a curved pathway, making them impractical for several surgical procedures. For this reason, there is a continuous need for improved devices for surgical drilling of curved holes. Areas covered: This review provides a comprehensive overview and classification of the patent literature of surgical drills able to produce a curved hole. The goal is to identify the fundamental mechanical designs of the drills. The medical section of the Web of Science Derwent Innovation Index was scanned combining keywords for both steering and drilling. Overall, 41 unique patents were reviewed and categorized. Expert opinion: Drills were subdivided in four groups based on the capability of either drilling a single curved path or a multi-curved path and on their ability to adjust the path after insertion of the drill into the bone. We found patents describing instrument designs for all these four groups. The insight in the drilling capabilities and in the mechanical designs described in the patents may serve as a source of inspiration for the design of novel surgical drills and the development of new surgical procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-298
JournalExpert Review of Medical Devices
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Bone drilling
  • flexible bur
  • mechanical design
  • orthopedic surgery
  • steerable


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