Microwave drilling of bones

Yael Eshet, Ronit Rachel Mann, Abby Anaton, Tomer Yacoby, Amit Gefen, Eli Jerby*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a feasibility study of drilling in fresh wet bone tissue in vitro using the microwave drill method [Jerby , 2002], toward testing its applicability in orthopaedic surgery. The microwave drill uses a near-field focused energy (typically, power under ∼200 W at 2.45-GHz frequency) in order to penetrate bone in a drilling speed of ∼1 mm/s. The effect of microwave drilling on mechanical properties of whole ovine tibial and chicken femoral bones drilled in vitro was studied using three-point-bending strength and fatigue tests. Properties were compared to those of geometrically similar bones that were equivalently drilled using the currently accepted mechanical rotary drilling method. Strength of mid-shaft, elastic moduli, and cycles to failure in fatigue were statistically indistinguishable between specimen groups assigned for microwave and mechanical drilling. Carbonized margins around the microwave-drilled hole were ∼15% the hole diameter. Optical and scanning electron microscopy studies showed that the microwave drill produces substantially smoother holes in cortical bone than those produced by a mechanical drill. The hot spot produced by the microwave drill has the potential for overcoming two major problems presently associated with mechanical drilling in cortical and trabecular bone during orthopaedic surgeries: formation of debris and rupture of bone vasculature during drilling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1634511
Pages (from-to)1174-1182
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Carbonization
  • Mechanical properties
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Thermal damage


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