Need to Perform Brain Surgery? Better Grab Your Black & Decker

By Boonsri Dickinson | May 20, 2009 5:03 pm

drill.jpgThirteen-year-old Nicholas Rossi took a nasty fall off his bike and hit his head. After picking himself up, he felt fine, so he went home. But when his mom spotted a large bump forming on his cranium, she rushed him to the nearest hospital in their rural Australian town.

The general practitioner on call, Rob Carson, recognized that the boy had fractured his skull, causing a potentially fatal blood clot— the type of brain injury similar to what killed actress Natasha Richardson.

The hospital didn’t have the necessary tool for proper brain surgery, so Carson went to the closet and nabbed a standard power drill. Before drilling into the boy’s skull, he phoned a Melbourne-based neurosurgeon for advice. He then performed the surgery, relieving enough pressure to save Rossi’s life.

Carson’s situation illustrates some of the remarkably low-tech ways doctors can perform operations. A British neurosurgeon routinely uses a cordless $60 hand drill for brain surgery, when he travels to the Ukraine twice a year to volunteer his free hand drill services. And he’s not the only doctor using ordinary drills: Surgeons working at hospitals in the Ukraine and other Eastern European countries use household drills, instead of the real deal (which costs around $65,000).

Other oddball life-saving examples include putting maggots on patients with wounds infected with MRSA. Then there’s just misconduct: This dentist used his tools to clean his ears and fingernails out before cleaning his patients’ teeth.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Sharpies For Surgery
Discoblog: Tree Found Growing In Man’s Lungs

Image: flickr/ Cayusa

  • Eugine
  • Jason

    Of course, this also demonstrates why our health care system is in the toliet. If a $60 drill does the job of a $65,000 one. I bet the $65,000 has -some- differences but I highly doubt worth the difference of 1,000 times its primary function.

  • Pingback: Artistically-Challenged Man Becomes “Michelangelo” After Brain Surgery | Discoblog | Discover Magazine()

  • Christina Viering

    Was his bill reduced respectively?

  • http://link JXL66

    You have not listened to what I said and have not understood. ,


    You really need to be careful with unplanned surgeries! Anything that you do to the brain will not have “no” effect. Everything that you do on the spine and brain (for all the neurosurgeuns) Will have some effect on the patient. I am no doctor yet. But I am a school student who is planning on being a neurologist, or an anesthesiologist when I grow up. I am planning on going to Harvard University, getting a doctorite degree, and I am a straight A student. So, I have learned about brain function, so you guys that are neurosurgeuns, plan as much as possible before any serious opperation.


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