PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A surgical helmet made out of coffee grounds could soon be used in the operating room.
This is specifically being tested for use with surgery on the nose and throat.
The idea came from a big coffee fan who’s a professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University.
“I’ve always loved coffee. I have an espresso machine at home and I make coffee every day,” said Bob Webster.
The idea that if ground coffee can be vacuum-packed into a hard brick, then maybe it could improve the so-called GPS system surgeons use when operating on the nose and throat.
“The skin is mobile, it doesn’t stick to the skull, and so, a very slight motion can throw us off,” said Dr. Paul Russell. “A quarter-inch can be a big difference when you’re operating in a really tiny area.”
Instead of using a headband with two-way tape or drilling holes into a patient’s skull, scientists used a cap filled with coffee grounds that’s hooked up to a vacuum.
“The way that the cap solidifies, it actually conforms into the contours of the skull,” said Webster.
The cap not only keeps a patient’s head secure, it makes optical scanning with reflective markers more accurate, guiding surgical tools inside the patient.
“It holds the markers very rigidly on the head so that they can’t move,” said Webster. “You can move the head all around and those markers go just with the head.”
The research was just presented at an international conference. Now the team is hoping to expand the work to eventually get FDA approval.