Brain surgery with a Bosch electric drill


The Sunday Times has an incredible story about Henry Marsh, a consultant neurosurgeon at St. George’s Hospital in South London, who travels to a hospital in Kiev twice a year in his spare time to perform free operations using only the most rudimentary instruments:

The young man lies back on the hospital trolley and waits patiently as his head is secured in place with a vice.

Marian Dolishny’s nervous smile and worried, flicking eyes, betray the certain knowledge that what he is about to undergo will be anything but pleasant. But he also knows that time is short: if the enormous tumour inside his head is not removed, it will soon kill him.

Minutes later the team of doctors, including one of Britain’s most eminent brain surgeons, begins to break into the skull of their fully conscious patient – with a Bosch PSR960 handy-man’s cordless drill.

The work of Marsh and his Ukranian colleague Igor Petrovich is the subject of a documentary called The English Surgeon, which will be broadcast on BBC2 on 30th March.


  1. #1 Amateur surgeon
    March 18, 2008

    That’s the little secret that vets and Medicins sans Frontieres know: surgery isn’t complicated. If you’re willing to settle for a 99% success rate and avoid patients with serious comorbidities, it can be very simple. 90% of the cost is in that last tiny bit of assurance.

    Entering sterile space like this fellow is doing is somewhat more involved than the dirty injury repair that I’m used to (wildlife rescue, if anyone cares), but large animal vets routinely do abdominal surgery in barns.

  2. #2 wes
    March 18, 2008

    so, this isn’t showing anywhere else?

  3. #3 Mo
    March 18, 2008

    According to the website, it’s also showing at cinemas in big cities across the U.K. Hopefully it’ll show up on YouTube or elsewhere sooner or later.

  4. #4 Ian
    March 19, 2008

    I met a Navy corpsman who (after some deep soul searching) used a Black and Decker 3/8″ drill to put a couple of burr holes in the head of a submariner who had fallen down a hatchway…patient lived

    I’m not sure I’d have had the courage…

  5. #5 Norman Doering
    April 15, 2008

    I’m not sure, but I think they were doing brain surgery with an electric drill on the last episode of Battlestar Galactica I saw.

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