At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers are using fiber optics to detect how drill guide wires are bending to prevent failures that are all too common. Guide wires are used to place screws during orthopedic procedures such as hip repairs and spinal fusions. During drilling the guidewires can bend and even break, creating further problems during surgery.
The research team embedded fiber optic bundles within a guidewire that allow them to detect how that guidewire is bending. By having a computer constantly monitor the extent of the bending, a future clinical system would warn the surgeon during drilling that danger is nearby.
Check out the following video showing off the current prototype of the BendGuide device. It’s not clear whether the researchers have managed to measure the bending as the drill is spinning, but it’s certainly a promising advancement.