Removing tumors from within the inner ear is a very delicate matter that typically requires surgeons to remove the entire mastoid bone. However, in the future, all doctors will need to do is cut a tunnel of 5 mm in diameter through the bone using a miniature robot named NiLiBoRo.
The system is capable of adjusting its path while drilling through bone to steer around sensitive tissue such as blood vessels and nerves. Researchers will be displaying the new technology at the Compamed exhibition from November 16-19 in Düsseldorf (Hall 08a, Booth K38).
Surgery is unavoidable for treating inner ear tumors, but the inner ear is difficult to access. This is because it is covered by a cranial bone known as the mastoid, or petrosal bone. What’s more, the surrounding tissue contains lots of nerves and blood vessels. For this reason the surgeons will cut out as much of the mastoid bone as needed until they have located each one of these sensitive structures. Only then can they be sure not to damage them. What this entails most of the time is the removal of the entire bone. The hole thus created is filled in with fatty tissue taken from the abdomen after the completion of the procedure.