What is a Bone Drill?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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A bone drill is a device used by surgeons to repair broken bones. The bone drill is used to create holes that surgical pins and screws attach to. By drilling and screwing plates to severely broken bones, surgeons are able to save many limbs that would have required amputation. The bone drill is made of surgical-grade materials and is able to operate without adversely affecting the open wound.

When installing a pin into a bone, a surgeon may need to ream a hole out in order to fit the pin properly. The bone drill is able to perform that function with ease. What may have taken hours to do with more primitive hand-powered tools is now completed in a matter of minutes. The time saved completing the work is time that the patient does not need to be under anesthesia. This can often be a factor in the survivability rate of critically injured patients.

The bone drill is typically electrically powered. The motor operates at an amazingly high speed, making drilling through hard bone a seemingly easy task. This type of operation is not strictly limited to repair of broken bones. The bone drill is also used when extracting bone marrow from a bone. The marrow is removed through a small hole drilled into the bone. In many cases, the hole is gradually filled in with new bone by the body's regeneration capabilities.


The benefits of an electric bone drill over a manual drill are two-fold. The hand drill took a longer time to drill through the bone meaning that the patient was unconscious for a longer period of time. Also, the hand drill was not as precise. The drill would wobble and move while the surgeon was cranking the drill. This resulted in an oblong hole. The electric drill powers through in a rapid and exacting manner, creating a precision sized hole in the bone.

The exacting tolerance of the hole allows for a better fit for the screws and pins, as well as promoting faster healing. The bone is able to mend itself better due to the better fit of the plates and screws and is often as strong or stronger than it was prior to the break. Its operating mechanisms are sealed, and therefore able to be sterilized easily. This reduces the chances of infection as well as protects the drill from any outside contamination.


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