Henry Marsh, a senior consultant at St George’s hospital in Tooting, south London, has used the Bosch 9.6 volt battery-operated hand tool to open up the skulls of his patients to remove life-threatening tumours. Occasionally the battery has gone flat halfway through.
The operation is performed with the patients fully awake – a technique that fell out of use in Britain 50 years ago. Marsh said that Ukrainians could withstand such a practice because they were “very tough”.
The 58-year-old consultant travels to Ukraine twice a year to perform free operations at a clinic run by a fellow surgeon, Igor Petrovich. The handyman drill was used because the local doctors could not afford state-of-the-art equipment.
When working for the National Health Service, Marsh uses a £30,000 compressed-air medical drill, but he said that the Bosch was an effective stand-in. “There’s not a huge difference,” he said. “The drill is Igor’s solution. It’s simply an ordinary drill which he uses with the standard medical drill bits.
“I have used the Bosch drill myself when I’ve been operating with Igor. It’s exactly the drill that you could have in your garden shed. He bought it at a do-it-yourself shop.”
There is a shortage of fully trained anaesthetists so Marsh’s patients are given only a local anaesthetic. This enables him to talk to them to ensure that he is not doing any permanent damage as he drills. – anorak