'Coffee cap,' CT scans improve detection of mid-surgery movements

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Nose and throat surgeries can be especially delicate procedures, often requiring a relatively high level of precision, which makes six cups of coffee an unlikely solution for errors in measurements.

“These are very delicate operations and a sophisticated image guidance system has been developed to help the surgeons, but they don’t trust the system because sometimes it is spot on and other times it is off the mark,” said Robert Webster, associate professor of mechanical engineering and otolaryngology. “When we heard about this, we began wondering what was causing these errors and we decided to investigate.”

The coffee isn't solving problems with its caffeine. Instead, the grounds are used in a special helmet that improves monitoring of tiny head movements during procedures. Scientists have developed what looks like a puffy swim cap that is covered with reflective dots and filled with vacuum-packed coffee grounds. Pre-operative scans can be compared to images taken during a surgery to find movements. Computers can use the information to combine CT scans with a patient’s head position.

Read more and watch a video of the innovation below: