Volume 8 - Issue 5

Review Article Biomedical Science and Research Biomedical Science and Research CC by Creative Commons, CC-BY

Enhancement of Bone Canal Drilling Process and Equipments: The Impact of Technology and Knowledge Transfer from Oil Well Drilling Techniques

*Corresponding author: Catalin Teodoriu, Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, University of Oklahoma, USA.

Received: April 20, 2020; Published: April 29, 2020

DOI: 10.34297/AJBSR.2020.08.001311


Bone fracture or bone loss can happen as a result of automobile and motorcycle accidents, falls from a height, sports injuries, aging population and other diseases, for which surgical procedures to support the bone with the help of a metallic rod is applied using a specific procedure called bone drilling. The bone-drilling process necessitates an accurate and efficient surgical drill bit to minimize thermal damage or additional impairment to the bone. The success of this process is dependent upon the eminence of the drilling procedure, drilling equipment and hands -on experience of the specialists performing the operation while minimizing associated injury to the surrounding tissue, or the significant rise of temperature to the neighboring bone and periosteum due to the conversion of friction energy to the thermal energy. The current technology for bone rods implants depends highly on the experience of the specialist performing the operation. There are numerous companies on the market that deliver bone drilling equipment; however, the selection process of a specific tool and the training involved are ultimately the choices of the specialist. Nevertheless, the need in meeting an accurate efficient operation of these in-market drilling bone equipment continues to be a challenge as many pertinent questions remain without solutions.

This paper demonstrates the inconsistency in bone drilling process and equipment alongside with training insufficiency of specialists and highlight the importance of technology and knowledge transfer.

This research provides groundwork in adopting lessons learned from oil well drilling process and frameworks which can be very effective for optimal bone drill procedures can cause both mechanical and thermal damages to both bone and surrounding tissues.

Keywords: Bone fracture; Bone drilling and equipment Specialist; Knowledge transfer; Oil well drilling

Abbreviations: IM: Intramedullary Rod; CT: Computed Tomography; LED: Light-Emitting Diode; PCBN: Polycrystalline Cubic Boron Nitride; ROP: Rate of Penetration


Bone is an exceedingly dynamic tissue and the main constituent of the human skeletal system. It is a fossilized connective tissue forming the major portion of the skeleton of most vertebrates. Fracture of bones and related injuries or diseases is as old as their extreme existence. Bone fracture therapy for which surgical procedures called bone drilling is essential and implemented, involves restoring or reinforcing the fractured sections to their preliminary position and immobilizing while undergoing the healing process. As bone repair is termed to be very complex, the literature reveals that approximately 10-15% of all operated fractured bones have a long delay healing and prolonged immobilization [1].

Drilling of bone is a common procedure in clinical surgeries by creating a hole for screw insertion to restore fractured bone parts for immobilization [2,3]. Bone drilling operation is a common operation in traditional and modern surgery practice for medical applications [4]. The drilling of bone is pervasive in many disciplines of surgery including orthopedics, neurosurgery, dentistry, plastics and reconstructive surgery, craniomaxillofacial, among others. This procedure is very delicate and necessitates high accuracy to drill until the required depth is attained. Lughmani et al. [5] mentioned that assessment and control of bone drilling forces are crucial to preclude drill breakthrough, disproportionate heat and mechanical obliteration to the bone as well as surrounding tissues. This entails a delicate control of instruments with the numerous structures nearby bone including the soft tissues, nerves, skin muscle and vascular structures and the cortical bone [6], examined the effect of drill force for several screw and pin fixations. Karmani & Lam [7] studied the type of drill geometry special effects on bone drilling performance by investigating the different type of orthopedic bone drill bits.

As health care is moving from a classified delivery system to one that features greater transparency, partnership, patient involvement and highly secured efficient bone drilling equipment’s. The integration of engineering and computer technology has provided a broad of inventions which have enhanced surgical performance and improve surgical personnel’s precision. There are numerous companies on the market that manufacture bone drilling equipment; however, the selection process of a specific tool and the training involved are ultimately the choices of the specialist. Louredo et al. [8] reported that bone drilling processes are usually carried out by employing electric or pneumatic manual drilling tools. Operating these tools is very simple and similar to the domestic drilling machines/tools used at home to hang a picture. The surgeon can manage the rotation speed of the drill bit while exerting a certain force against the bone to make the hole. However, the drawback of such drilling tools is that there is no way for the surgeon to estimate when the hole is completed, or the desired depth is attained. He mentioned that at the point of breakthrough the drill bit can be shoved further along the drilling axis due to the inertia of the drilling force. While this undesired consequence may not be very vital when drilling through a wall at home, it can be of considerable importance when drilling a bone since the surrounding tissue can be seriously damaged. Currently, the only means to efficiently stop the drilling practice at the desired depth is based upon the surgeon’s experience and intuition. The need in meeting an accurate efficient operation of these in-market drilling bone equipment continues to be a challenge as many pertinent questions still remain without solutions. Thus, any means of assisting the surgeon during the operation can decrease the prospective for error and damages to the bone tissues. Furthermore, the need for appropriate training of orthopedic specialists towards achieving the fastest drilling with minimum damage to the bone and, more important, the bone marrow is a necessity.

To overcome current limitations of on-market drilling tools and improve bone drilling procedure in the operating theater, an effective technology and drilling operational knowledge of oil and gas industry will be discussed here. Tapping into some of these successfully frameworks and methodologies will offer greater precision and heightens safety by preventing damage to bone and surrounding tissues. Some of the lessons learned will also improve bone drilling equipment taking account of bone drilling parameters and enhance the training capabilities of orthopedic specialists by having repeatable successful operations standpoint and also aid the health professionals in the decision-making process before drilling.

Knowledge-Based Transferable Oil Well Drilling Procedures and Frameworks

Highlighted below are possible transferrable knowledge and frameworks that could solve some of the key challenge problems associated to the need in meeting an precise competent operation of in-market bone drilling systems, upscaling the hands-on experience of the specialists performing the operation and improving the efficiency of bone canal drilling.

Modern drilling system for drilling through ice and gas hydrates systems

Teodoriu et. al [25] proposed a modern drilling system for drilling through ice and gas hydrates systems without melting the ice. His concept is called low energy high performance drill bit. The cutting-edge concept focuses on heat development during rock cutting process using a novel experimental setup capable to measure heat development during drilling in ice at a low-cost energy. The novel setup allows optimization of drilling bits and coring devices to work in low to medium consolidated formations. The setup was capable of running at constant WOB, ROP, flowrate which enhances the chances to drill in a gas hydrate like sediments while mitigating the heat development by controlling the drilling parameters. Figure 15 shows the schematic of the facility and a picture of the facility while testing the first ice sample. The lessons learned in this project can be adopted to bone drilling machine testing stand and bone drill parameters optimization with the effort of decreasing mechanical stresses that could lead to tissue damage. Furthermore, the geomechanics related knowledge will aid understanding the bone damage induced during high efficient drilling.

Biomedical Science &, Research

Figure 15: The novel testing facility to investigate low energy bit [24].

Drilling vibration setup

Laboratory scale experimentation has been a proven and convenient way of studying drilling processes and optimizing drilling efficiency. In their studies, Marquez & Teodoriu [26] and Srivastava & Teodoriu [27] proposed a modern drilling vibration setup (the longest stick-slip experimental setup worldwide) at the University of Oklahoma, USA. The amalgamated parameter model of this drilling vibration system provides an important understanding of vibration modes; axial (longitudinal) mode, torsional (rotational) mode, transverse (lateral) mode under variety of operating parameters and their influence on drilling performance and optimization. This setup is also dedicated to meet and exceed the training requirement of drilling operators, increasing efficiency and drilling performance in the oil and gas industry us to drill a high quality well at less cost per foot in the lowest time possible while also improving learning ability of young engineers at the university level. Figure 16 shows state of the art layout of the drilling vibration setup that can be modified to accommodate drilling through bones operations.

Biomedical Science &, Research

Figure 16: Schematic of a complex drilling setup showing the multitude of parameters to me collected and interpreted in real time, based on the actual drilling simulator at the University of Oklahoma.

Tapping into knowledge and previous experience in assessing the required parameters to understand how to optimize and eventually maximize the speed drilling can be put together in constructing bone drilling setup. This simulator will aid investigation of the effects of spindle rate, feed rate, depth of drilling and other related bone drilling procedures drawbacks during surgical operation in an effort to reduce causalities like metal stress to the operator and pains to patients. Furthermore, having a simplified and smart efficient bone drilling setup will allow monitoring of forces and temperature during drilling process. Additionally, the drilling shaft that connects the bit/mill to the drilling machine will be connected to sensors that can monitor the dynamic parameters such as RPM or torque. Our review shown in this paper have revealed that none of the equipment found in the literature is using high frequency sensors to measure and monitor not only the drilling parameters but also the vibrations induced during the drilling process.

Drill bit specifications, design and optimization

The drill bit plays a vital role, been the most essential tool in drilling operation. They differ based on shape, purpose and materials. The choice of the drilling bit and performance depends on several factors such as the oil formation to be drilled (soft, medium hard, medium soft or hard formation), cost of the bit, condition of the drilling bit, the weight applied to and the rate at which it is rotated. However, it is very important to keep written records of the drilling performance. Bits are worn by abrasion and shocks while drilling. The wear pattern is crucial, it should be inspected once the bit has been pulled and its grading should be recorded. Such records reveal the working life of the bit and aid the selection of the type of bit which may provide most efficient in a particular formation.

Several investigators conducted research related to drill bit selection and optimization that provides the maximum achievable ROP, suggested multiple approaches with machine algorithms to improve the reliability of oil well drilling bit design optimization process by ensuring that the expected directional behaviour of the drill bit is robust over a well-defined range of drilling parameters [28-33].

Literature shows that drilling parameters (drilling speed, feed rate, drilling energy, drilling depth) and drill specification (drill bit diameter, cutting fac, drill point, drill wear) are key parameters that influence orthopedic drilling during surgical process [2,34]. Several researches showed that many features of drill are responsible for increase in thermal injury to the bone and surrounding tissues.

Leveraging the knowledge and applied learnings from oil well drilling operation as related to drill bit optimization and performance could result in an improvement of drill design, drilling performance of the drill bit and its reliability and thus, refine the bone drilling parameters as subjected to bones and surrounding tissues. Continuous efforts by investigating and evaluate the several significant factors influencing the bone drilling on which no general agreement is yet been made will add enhance surgical operation. Better understanding of these factors will enhance the performance of the surgeon and the post-operative outcome for the patient.

Drilling operation training program

To work on an oil rig both onshore and offshore drilling operations, a specialized training is required and oil specialists meeting certain minimum standards. Companies do organize or collaborate with institutions to give an in-depth training module for drilling operations personnel (novice and experienced drillers) for procedures and upscale their proficiency most especially when a new drilling equipment’s or system is introduced or upgrade into the market. Training is accomplished using a virtual simulator with simple and challenging exercises, teaching students the drilling process, and allowing different drilling scenarios. It can be used for research to identify the importance of drilling parameters for drilling efficiency.

A typical example is drilling simulator laboratory at the Oklahoma University, USA that gives the students an early exposure as related to drilling processes in form of preplanning, day to day and post analysis tool technical know-how under field condition. The simulator is built along with industry expertise in generating virtual environments in which to train their drilling operations personnel for procedures on rigs. A similar simulator could be build to train doctors for drilling through bones operations.

Having a standardized training center with embedded simulator that support training and testing of new bone drilling equipment will create unique immersive learning experiences that allow medical students to safely apply their academic knowledge to real life scenarios. Extended knowledge from drilling operation training program will also play excellent role in bone drill design and parameters analysis, understand fracture mechanics and cracking process, condition monitoring and process optimization while eliminating possible clinical malfunction incidents while keeping high safety standards.


In this review, an attempt has been made to systematically organize the research investigations conducted on bone drilling, especially with respect to drilling equipment. The following conclusions can be drawn from this study:

  1. This approach will have a transformative effect on personal health and wellbeing, lower the rate of medication errors and health economy transformation with higher precision in risk identification to reduce health cost for an individual n health care system and population health management.
  2. The technology adaptation of OU drilling simulator will make bone drilling process more efficient while reducing patient recovery time and Xray exposure. Furthermore, having a bone drilling setup can also be used to further develop new tools or methods thus improving bone rod insertion. This approach will be unique for the medical industry since it will allow an independent and realistic comparison of various tools while the final goal is to provide an interactive and robust solution for training future specialists in a way very close to reality.

Conflict of Interest

The authors affirm that they have no known contending financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this article.


The authors would like to thank the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering for support provided in other projects that made this paper possible.


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