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A Coffee Cap Makes Makes Throat & Nose Surgery More Precise

If at this point you aren’t amazed by the litany of uses for coffee, then I don’t think anything will ever convince you. But try this coffee cap on for size. According to Smithsonian.com, a cap filled with coffee grounds has been created that helps make throat and nose surgery more accurate.

Invented by a group of engineers at Vanderbilt University, the “granular jamming cap” is meant to give additional precision to image-guided surgery, a technique “allowing doctors to track their instruments inside a patient’s body in real time to avoid unnecessary cutting, especially in delicate endoscopic surgeries that work with tools inserted through the nose or through very small incisions.” Smithsonian notes that this type of surgery is used in neurological procedures nearly 1,000,000 times each year.

But image-guide surgery requires a pinpoint precise map of the area of the body being operated on. To do this, a 3D model of a patient’s head are made with a CT or MRI scan that uses “fiducials”, which are “akin to the dots worn by actors who are transformed into CGI characters.” The problem is, because “human skin is pliable and flexible and the skull is smooth and hard to grasp,” these maps can be unreliable, limiting the utility and trustworthiness of the technique.

The coffee cap eliminates this margin of error. Based upon the “universal robot gripper” (which is actually very cool, and you can make your own pretty easily by following this video) this granular jammer works by vacuuming out all the air in the cap when it is on a patient’s head, forming “a rigid seal” that keeps the CGI-type dots from moving.

The team behind the cap have applied for a patent and regulatory approval before this coffee-based technology will be found in operating rooms. But still, coffee is now a precision surgical tool. At this point I’m willing to grant that coffee is smarter than me. Smarter than I? Is it “me” or “I”? Ask coffee. Coffee probably knows.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network.

*all media via Vanderbilt University

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