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United States Patent [191

Romano
[54] CURVED BORE DRILLING APPARATUS

[11] [45]

Patent Number:

5,002,546
Mar. 26, 1991

Date of Patent:

2,905,178
3,554,192

9/1959 l-lilzinger ...................... .. 128/303 R


1/1971 Isberner ..... . . . .. 128/83

[76]
[21]

Inventor:

Jack w- Romano, 412 NE- 165th, Apt. #13, Seattle, Wash. 98155

3,628,522 12/1971 Kate ..... .. 3,697,188 10/1972 Pope ............ .. 3,815,605 6/1974 Schmidt et al.
4,257,411 3/1981
l/1982

128/751 408/230 128/305

APPI' NO" 510,743

C110 .......................... .. 606/96

[22]

Filed;

APR 18, 1990


_ _

4,265,231
4,312,337

5/1981 Scheller, Jr. et al.


Donohue ..... .... ..... . . . ..

606/80
606/80

4,345,601

9/1982

Fukuda .... .1

606/147

Related U-S- Appllcano Data

4,421,112 12/1983 Mains 6! a1.

.... .. 606/88

[63]

Continuation-impart of SCI. NO. 196,319, May 20,


1988, Pat. NO. 4,941,466, which is a continuation-in-

4,541,423 9/ 1985 Bari? ------ ~


4,590,929 5/1986 X19111 - . - ~ - -

6136/80
- - - ~- 606/74

pan of 561-, No_ 37,697 Apt 13, 1937, abandoned.

4,622,960 11/1986 Tam .................................. .. 606/103

[51]

Int. Cl.5 ............................ .. A61B 17/16


U-S. CL ...................................... 1.

FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS


.

606/180; 408/127; 408/146; 408/187

[58]

Field Of Search ................. .. 606/80, 96, 103, 180;

Prlmww Bummer-Robert A- Hafer

175/61.75, 73, 74, 75; 408/1 R, 127, 136, 146, 147, 187, 188; 81/1776

Assistant ExammerKevm G- Rooney Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Cassidy, Vance & Tarleton

[56]

References Cited
U_S_ PATENT DOCUMENTS

[57]

ABSTRACT

315256;"""""""""""""""""" 18.25/23 182233O 9/1931 Ainsle "'6O6/145


2:291:413 4/1942 Sicbmndt 128/83

Curved bore drilling apparatus and methods having a remotely actuated, pivotal rocker arm and cantilevered, curved guide means which guide and advance a cutting means through a predetermined curved path to drill one
or more curved bores within a solid material.
33 Claims, 12 Drawing Sheets

2,666,430 l/1954 Gispert


2,747,384

128/83

5/1956 Beam ................................... .. 464/52

58

I144 [50 (so [134?

154

148-1

1C 7,11, 15W f
1 ,

140 142

160 152 150

156

56

24/

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Mar. 26, 1991

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US. Patent

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US. Patent

Mar. 26, 1991

Sheet 12 of 12

5,002,546

1
CURVED BORE DRILLING APPARATUS
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED

5,002,546

holes do not intersect or if the permitted working area is restricted.


In some instances severe damage can be caused to the

surrounding bone structure and soft tissue. By its very


nature, this procedure removes more bone than is de
sireable. It is also not uncommon to break a needle

APPLICATION This is a continuation-in-part of a commonly owned,

copending patent application, titled CURVED BORE


DRILLING METHOD AND APPARATUS, Ser.
No. 07/196,319, which was ?led in the United States Patent and Trademark Office on May 20, 1988 and is

within hard bone structure by using too much force in


attempting to force a curved needle through two

straight holes, thus, necessitating additional time and


inconvenience to retrieve the broken needle fragments.

now US. Pat. No. 4,941,466. That patent application


was a continuation-in-part of an earlier, now abandoned

patent application, titled CURVED BORE DRIL


LING METHOD AND APPARATUS, Ser. No.
07/037,697, which was ?led in the United States Patent

This greatly increases the expense to perform the opera tion. Additional anesthesia is required which also in creases the risk associated with the operation.
The following surgical devices were created in an ' attempt to overcome such difficulties.

Scheller, Jr, et al. (US. Pat. No. 4,265,231; issued May 5, 1981) lists a number of speci?c examples of such tions and Drawings of these earlier patent applications operations wherein a curved bore is advantageous and are incorporated herein by reference. describes one known method and apparatus for forming 20 curved bores. The Scheller device is an example of the COPYRIGHT NOTICE use of a ?exible drill containing cannula of a predeter Copyright 1990, James R. Vance. All Rights mined curvature which may be hand-manipulated Reserved through its curved path within bone. As may be appreciated, the manipulation of such a A portion of the disclosure of this patent document cannula requires a considerable amount of space and it contains material which is subject to copyright protec is thus of limited utility where access is limited. The tion. The copyright owner has no objection to the fac space requirement for operation of the instrument also simile reproduction by anyone of the patent document necessitates a considerably larger skin incision. Not or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and only does the manipulation of the hand held cannula Trademark Office patent ?le or records, but otherwise 30 and drive motor require additional space, but the cum reserves all copyrights whatsoever. bersome size and shape of the cannula itself severely 1. Technical Field limits the utility of the Scheller device. This invention relates to apparatus and methods for Other examples of the use of a rigid curved cannula forming or drilling one or more curved bores or holes are illustrated in Barber (U .8. Pat. No. 2,541,423; issued into a solid material; and, more particularly, to drilling Sept. 17, 1985) and in Donohue (US. Pat. No. apparatus having a remotely actuated, pivotal rocker 4,312,337; issued Jan. 26, 1982). These devices suffer arm and curved guide means which guide and advance from the same limitations discussed above with respect a cutting means through a predetermined curved path to the Scheller method and apparatus. within a solid material. In each of the cited patents, the cannula is used to 2. Background Art push, pull or advance the drill shaft through a curved
and Trademark Office on Apr. 13, 1987. The Speci?ca

Many industries, including the health profession,

often desire to produce curved bores. Cannulas, lumens, entire instrument. Allowance must be made for the ducts, and other types of tubular and curved conduits shape of the preformed cannula. are each needed for particular purposes. Machinery The primary problems with the apparatus and meth often need such conduits to transport fuel, coolants, 45 ods of the prior art are: the time consuming nature of cutting ?uids, gases, products, and/or by-products. the procedures; the inability to operate in a restricted
Similarly, curved conduits are often needed within the

path determined by the operators manipulation of the

plumbing, electrical, and heating industries to transport ?uid, wiring, and heating around restricted corners. I-Ieretofore, machining for curved conduits has been
near impossible. Curved bores within solid objects have

been particularly difficult. A plurality of straight bores

area; and the possibility of severe damage to bone and /or to surrounding tissue. The results of these draw backs may have far reaching effect in terms of the cost of the surgery, the degree of scarring, and the recovery and rehabilitation time required, as well as increased anesthesia risks.

may be used at various angles in an attempt to round Furthermore, modern day trends of reducing incision difficult corners. Other options are to form a precast size and decreasing tissue violation do not lend them mold having a removable curved plug for a core, or to 55 selves well to the sometimes crude and inexact methods prepare multiple piece vacuum or injection molds. Such currently in practice, or described in any of the cited

tooling techniques are time-consuming and expensive.


The need for curved bores also exists within the ?eld

patent. For example, in the practice of arthroscopic


surgery an instrument is inserted into a joint cavity

of orthopedic surgery. For example, it is often desirable


to secure a suture or a wire to a bone to: secure a tissue,

such as ligament; immobilize adjacent bone structures;


and/or reduce a fracture. Traditional practice is to

through an extremely small puncture incision which is only large enough to allow entrance of the instrument. The cavity and manipulation of the instrument is ob
served by means of a scope device inserted through a

second near size incision. Curved bone drilling under make two independent straight bores at intersecting these conditions is presently nonexistent, and would be angles at some angle less than 180' within the bone structure. A curved needle is then gradually forced 65 extremely difficult if not impossible with known bone

through the bone from one bore hole to the other. This

drilling devices.
The inventor believes that the listed patents and known prior art taken alone or in combination neither

practice is highly susceptible to operational error. Such


a procedure is also very time consuming if the bore

5,002,546

anticipate nor render obvious the present invention.


These citations do not constitute an admission that such disclosures are relevant or material to the present

cuttings means permits a curved bore to be formed within the material.

The pivot point may comprise a cylindrical pivot pin


which pivotally secures the rocker arm to the support
structure. The rocker arm de?nes a rotating link or

claims. Rather, these citations relate only to the general


?eld of the disclosure and are cited as constituting the closest art of which the inventor is aware.
DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION
The present invention may be used within a wide

crank which rotates and/or oscillates about the ?xed


pivot point. The rocker arm has a ?rst end located near

the ?xed pivot point and has a second end extending

radially outward from the ?xed pivot point.


The curved guide means de?nes an arcuate tube or

variety of industries wherein simple, easy, inexpensive


apparatus and methods are desired to form one or more

channel having a ?rst end rigidly attached to the second


end of the rocker arm. The curved guide means has an

curved bores within a solid material. More particularly,

this invention provides apparatus and methods for using a remotely actuated, pivotal rocker arm and curved
guide means to guide and advance a cutting means

extended second end which cantilevers outwardly from the rocker arm. The curved guide means generally lies within an arc de?ned by the rotational path of the sec
ond end of the rocker arm as the rocker arm is rotated

through a predetermined curved path within a solid


material. The claimed apparatus and methods further contem

about its ?xed pivot point. The length of the rocker arm
and the length and cross-sectional area of the curved guide means are dependent upon the desired curve, length, and cross-sectional area of the curved bore to be

plate use of traditional and/or nontraditional machining

processes, including mechanical, electrochemical, and


thermal processes. Such cutting means may be remotely actuated by a wide variety of actuation means. Further more, the present invention allows the cutting means to
have a wide range of orientations with respect to the

formed. The pivot point is located near a protrusion or edge


of the support structure in such a manner that when the

rocker arm is pivoted or rotated, the second end of the


25 curved guide means extends away from the support

bored surface.

The present invention is a compact, functional, ef?

cient, reliable, reusable, durable, rugged, easily con


structed, inexpensive and economical to manufacture

structure passing through a predetermined curved path. Thus, if a material is juxtaposed near the pivot point and
support structure, rotation or pivotal movement of the rocker arm will urge the second end of the curved guide
means toward the material.

apparatus that requires minimal manipulation and is


simple to use. The present invention not only increases

the speed and simpli?es the procedure to form curved bores, it also provides an inexpensive, unobtrusive dril ling apparatus which requires less access room for oper ation and does not damage adjacent material. During
use, it is unnecessary to alter the angle of approach of a support structure, such as the housing of the apparatus, with respect to the material to be drilled. This enables curved bores to be formed within material, such as bone, through a very small incision which allows access to a deep bone structure, without damaging adjacent bone structure or tissue. The present invention also overcomes all of the previously mentioned disadvan

The forward, cantilevered, or extended second end of the curved guide means is provided with means for

securing the cutting means thereto. Such securing


means may comprise a collar, bearing, a bushing, or other structure to hold and retain the cutting means in
place. I

The cutting means may comprise any apparatus or

method which is capable of cutting the material within


the con?nes of a curved bore. Traditional or nontradi tional machining processes may be used, including me chanical, electrochemical, and thermal processes. In
one embodiment, the inventor prefers to use a electric

discharge machining (EDM) process. In another em


bodiment, a rotary cutting means is used.

tages.

To achieve these general and speci?c objects the 45


present invention comprises: a support structure; a rocker arm; curved guide means; cutting means; and
actuation means.

As stated above, the curved guide means may com


prise an arcuate tube or channel. Whether the curved

guide means is a tube or channel largely depends upon

the cutting and machining process used.


Some processes allow a portion of the cutting means
to be placed and contained within a tubular curved

The support structure may take any form which ap propriately orients the apparatus with respect to the
material to be drilled. The support structure may com

guide means. An appropriately powered pivotal con

prise an independent, dedicated support stand, an arm nection is then made at the ?xed pivot point of the extending from a larger machine or structure, a hand rocker arm to transfer power from a remote power held housing unit, or similar structure which meets the source to a leading, boring tip or cutting head secured particular needs of the user. 55 near the second end of the curved guide means. Electric The rocker arm is pivotally secured to the support discharge machining (EDM) allows for such a connec structure at a ?xed pivot point and rotates about an axis tion.

of rotation. This pivot point is extremely important to


the present invention. In essence, the movement of the guiding means and cutting means, which will be de

Alternatively, the cutting means may require the use


of a flexible shaft which is directly connected to a re mote power source. To accommodate such a connec

scribed further below, is dependent upon their rotation about this ?xed pivot point. Likewise, the bore to be formed within the material will also depend upon a predetermined curved path de?ned by a rotation about

tion, the curved guide means is provided with an out

wardly extending receiving channel which is used to guide, receive, and retain the flexible shaft of the cutting
means. For example, some processes require rotational
65 power obtained from a remote rotational power source

this ?xed pivot point.


Once a ?xed spacial relationship is achieved between the drilling apparatus and the material to be drilled,
rotation of the rocker arm, curved guide means, and

to be transmitted through a ?exible drill shaft to rotate

a leading cutting head. To use such a cutting means, the second end of the curved guide means is provided with

5,002,546

a securing means which permits rotation of the secured

The ?rst and/or second crank systems may one or

cutting head. The curved guide means is also provided


with an exterior channel which is designed to guide, receive and retain the rotatable, ?exible shaft. As the rocker arm is pivoted, the curved guide means and cutting head are advanced toward the material. The channel of the curved guide means receives and retains the ?exible shaft as the cutting head and curved guide means advance toward and through the material. Thus, when the rocker arm is pivoted, the curved guide means guides and advances the cutting means away from the support structure to bore a hole along a

more pulleys incorporated therein. Such pulleys share


the same axis of rotation as their corresponding crank system. The above mentioned tension cord may be passed around one or more of the pulleys to provide

smooth, easy actuation and rotation of the plane paral lelogram and attached curved guide means and cutting
head. In a second embodiment the pulleys and tension cords are replaced with a rack and pinion system.
In a further embodiment of the actuation means a

predetermined curved path within the material.


After the bore has been created, the motion of the
rocker arm is reversed and the curved guide means and cutting means are removed from within the material.

crossed-crank mechanism may be used. In still further embodiments, multiple rocker arms, curved guide means, cutting means, and actuation
means may be used in unison or within a single appara
tus.

The insertion and retraction of the curved guide means and cutting means into and from the material is de?ned

The present invention allows the cutting means to have a wide range of orientations with respect to the

by the oscillation of the rocker arm. 20 path and angle of rotation of the curved guide means The pivotal rocker arm, curved guide means, and and cutting means, and by placing the curved guide cutting means may be remotely actuated by a wide means and cutting means at various angles with respect variety of actuation means. The actuation means urges to the remaining elements of the apparatus and/or with the rocker arm to rotate, which in turn urges the curved respect to the bored material. guide means and cutting means to advance or retract Due to pressure to reduce medical costs, greater 25

bored surface. This is accomplished by controlling the

through the predetermined curved path.

Several different actuation means are described in

detail in the following text. The simplest actuation means, however, is where the ?rst end of the rocker
arm is rigidly attached to one end of an elongated pivot

emphasis is made to increase ef?ciency and reduce the time required to perform various procedures. Any re duction in time, and increase in accuracy and efficiency

pin. The pivot pin is rotatably secured to the support


structure, and a crank or lever is rigidly attached to a

is therefor of great signi?cance. Further, the modern trend is toward procedures which reduce incision size
and tissue violation. The latter trend is demanded not only for cost reduction and shortened recovery time,

second end of the pivot pin. Rotation of the crank causes the pivot pin to rotate, which causes the rocker
arm to rotate, which in turn causes the curved guide means and cutting means to advance or retract through

but also to reduce pain, scarring, rehabilitation time,

anesthesia risk, required pain medication, and wage loss during recovery. The present invention greatly simpli?es conventional
and arthroscopic surgery, and provides an apparatus
and methods to produce a curved bore with great accu

the predetermined curved path. A spring may also be


used to urge rotation of the rocker arm.

Alternatively, a connecting rod or push/pull linkage

racy and with minimum damage to adjacent bone and


ple, curved bores may now be formed in shoulder joints

may be pivotally secured to either the rocker arm or to 40 tissue within an extremely limited incision. For exam

the curved guide means. Preferably, the connecting rod


is secured at a juncture or intersection of the rocker arm

at dif?cult locations using safe, conventional puncture


sites. When used, this invention allows the attachment
of ?lament to bone in an exact and ef?cient manner,

and of the curved guide means. Appropriate movement of the connecting rod will cause the rocker arm, curved

guide means, and cutting means to advance or retract 45 saving time and cost, and permitting the operation to be

through the predetermined curved path.


In a ?rst embodiment of the present invention the actuation means comprises a double parallel-crank mechanism. The rocker arm, and two different crank systems are rotationally secured to the support struc ture. A single connecting rod is then connected to the rocker arm and to each of the two crank systems. A ?rst end of the connecting rod is pivotally secured to the rocker arm. The ?rst crank system is pivotally con nected to the connecting rod at an intermediate location

performed within very small, deep incision, heretofore


impossible with prior art devices. As a consequence of it ef?ciency, the present invention also decreases post

operative therapy and expense.


These and other objects and advantages of the pres
ent invention will become more readily apparent upon

reading the following disclosure and referring to the

attached drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a side-elevational view of a ?rst embodi

along the length of the connecting rod. A second end of the connecting rod is pivotally connected to the second
crank system. In essence, the support structure, rocker arm, connecting rod, ?rst crank system and second crank system form a plane parallelogram. Means for rotating the ?rst and second crank systems are also
provided. For example, one or more tension cords, chains, cables, or the like may be used to rotate the ?rst

ment of the drilling apparatus as taught herein with a portion of a left wall of a support structure housing
removed to illustrate an interior rocker arm, curved

guide means, cutting means, and actuation means. FIG. 2 is a plan view of the ?rst embodiment shown in FIG. 1, wherein a portion of an upper wall of the

housing is removed to illustrate the interrelationship

between the interior rocker arm, curved guide means, be used to urge one or more crank systems toward 65 cutting means, and actuation means. FIG. 3 is a front-elevational view of the ?rst embodi rotation or to retract the crank systems from an earlier ment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 with a portion of the front rotation. The tension cords may then be connected to an and upper walls of the housing removed. easily controlled lever, trigger, switch, or the like.

and/or second crank systems. Similarly, a spring may

5,002,546

8
BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

FIG. 4 is a partially sectioned, side-elevational view of a second embodiment of the invention, wherein the actuation means comprises a rack and pinion system. FIG. 5 is a partially sectioned, plan view of the sec ond embodiment shown in FIG. 4 with a portion of the upper wall of the housing removed to better show the

present invention or which render other details difficult to perceive.

Referring to the drawings, wherein like numerals


indicate like parts, a curved bore drilling apparatus 20
of the present invention comprises: a support structure

rack and pinion system.


FIG. 6 is a side-elevational of third embodiment of

the invention with a portion of the left wall of the hous

22; a rocker arm 24; curved guide means 26; cutting


means 28; and actuation means 30.

ing removed.
FIG. 7 is a partial side-elevational view of the support
structure, rocker arm, curved guide means having an

SUPPORT STRUCTURE
Support structure 22 may take any form which ap

external receiving channel, and cutting means having a ?exible shaft which is directly connected to a cutting
head. FIG. 8 is a partial side-elevational view of an alterna

propriately orients drilling apparatus 20 with respect to


a material 31 to be drilled. For example, support struc
ture 22 may comprise an extension or arm of a separate

tive embodiment, wherein the support structure, rocker

FIG. 9 is a schematic, partially sectioned, sideeleva tional view of a forth embodiment of the present inven tion which incorporates the use of an electric discharge

arm, and curved guide means are tubular in construc Support structure 22 may also be an independent tion and communicate with one another to allow the support stand speci?cally dedicated to supporting the cutting means to be contained therein. 20 remaining elements of drilling apparatus 20. As shown

larger machine or structure (not shown).

in FIGS. 9 and 10, support structure 22 may simply comprise an upright post 32 which is secured to a hori zontal base 34. Upright post 32 or horizontal base 34 machining (EDM) process. may serve other purposes, such as holding the material FIG. 10 is a schematic, plan view of the forth embodi 25 31 to be drilled. ment shown in FIG. 9. In the preferred embodiment, support structure 22 FIG. 11 is a partially sectioned, side-elevational view comprises a housing 36 which de?nes the parameters of of a fifth embodiment of the present invention, wherein an enclosure 38 located therein. Housing 36 supports, the actuation means comprises a crossed-crank mecha protects, and contains rocker arm 24, curved guide nism. means 26, cutting means 28, and actuation means 28. FIG. 12 is a partially sectioned, side-elevational view Housing 36 has an opening into enclosure 38. The open of a ?fth embodiment shown in FIG. 11, wherein the ing is located near rocker arm 24, curved guide means rocker arm and curved guide means are partially ro
tated to extend the cutting means past the support struc

26, and cutting means 28.

ture along a predetermined curved path.


FIG. 13 is a partially sectioned, plan view of the ?fth
embodiment as shown in FIG. 11.

35

For easy use, housing 36 may be a hand-held unit of

any size and shape which meets the particular needs of


a user.

For use in arthroscopic surgery, housing 36 has a pistol shape which is easily held. As seen in FIG. 1, ment of the invention as seen in FIGS. 15 and 16. FIG. 15 is a partial, cross-sectional, side-elevational 40 housing 36 may comprise: a left wall 40, a right wall 42,
FIG. 14 is a partial, isometric view of a sixth embodi~

view of the sixth embodiment shown in FIGS. 14 and 16, wherein the rocker arm, curved guide means, and

a rear wall 43, an upper wall 44, and a lower wall 46,

which generally de?ne a handle portion 48 and a neck

cutting head pivot within a plane that is different from housing 36 is extremely thin and narrow to allow place that of the rigid drive shaft. FIG. 16 is a partial, cross-sectional, plan view of the 45 ment of rocker arm 24, curved guide means 26, and
sixth embodiment shown in FIGS. 14 and 15 with an upper wall of the housing removed to illustrate use of

portion 50 of housing 36. Typically, neck portion 40 of


cutting means 28 deep within a small, narrow incision

(not shown). However, to better illustrate the interrela

multiple rocker arms, curved guide means, cutting


means, and actuation means within a single apparatus.

tionship between housing 36, neck portion 40, rocker


arm 24, curved guide means 26, cutting means 28, and actuation means 30, the size and dimensions of such

FIG. 17 is a partial, cross-sectional, side-elevational


view of a seventh embodiment of the invention shown

elements have been substantially enlarged within FIGS.

1-6 and 11-20. in FIGS. 18 and 19, wherein the rigid drive shafts rest within a plane which is generally perpendicular to the ROCKER ARM plane within which the multiple rocker arms, curved Rocker arm 24 is pivotally secured to housing 36 at a 55 guide means, and cutting means rotate. ?xed pivot point which de?nes its axis of rotation. As FIG. 18 is a partial, plan view of the seventh embodi shown in FIG. 1, the ?xed pivot point may comprise a ment shown in FIGS. 17 and 19. pivot pin 52 which pivotally secures rocker arm 24 to FIG. 19 is a partial, cross-sectional, front-elevational housing 36. Pivot pin 52 may be secured to either left view of the seventh embodiment shown in FIGS. 17 wall 40 or to right wall 42. In the preferred embodi and 19. ment, pivot pin 52 is secured to both left wall 40 and to FIG. 20 is a partial, cross-sectional, side-elevational right wall 42 and spans the distance within enclosure 38 view of an eight embodiment of the present invention. between such walls. One should understand that the drawings are not Rocker arm 24 de?nes a rotating link or crank which necessarily to scale and the elements are sometimes rotates and/or oscillates about pivot pin 52. Rocker arm illustrated by graphic symbols, phantom lines, diagram 24 has a ?rst end 54 located near pivot pin 52 and has a matic representations, and fragmentary views. In cer second end 56 which extends radially outward from tain instances, the inventor may have omitted details
which are not necessary for an understanding of the

pivot pin 52.

9
CURVED GUIDE MEANS

5,002,546

10

or burr; abrasive ?ow machining (AFM); ?uid or water


Curved guide means 26 de?nes an arcuate tube and /or channel having a ?rst end 58 which is rigidly at tached to or integrated with second end 56 of rocker arm 24, Rocker arm 24 and curved guide means 26 may

jet machining; abrasive water jet machining; hydrody namic machining; ultrasonic machining (impact grind ing and rotary ultrasonic machining); electrochemical machining (ECM); electrolytic hole machining using an
apparatus sold by General Electric Company under the
trademark ELECTROSTREAM; electron beam ma

be attached together by any appropriate means such as by adhesion, bolting, welding, or the like. In the pre
ferred embodiment, rocker arm 24 and curved guide
means 26 are formed from a single piece of material.

chining (EBM); laser beam machining (LBM); electric discharge machining (EDM); plasma beam machining
(PBM); and/or plasma are cutting (PAC). The above
list of processes is not to intended to be limiting. Other

Such single piece of material is then appropriately bent


to form second end 56 of rocker arm 24 and ?rst end 58
of curved guide means 26. _

Curved guide means 26 also has an extended second end 60 which cantilevers outwardly from second end 56 of rocker arm 24. Curved guide means 26 generally lies within an arc that is de?ned by the rotational path of
second end 56 of rocker arm 24 as rocker arm 24 is

processes may also be used. As shown in FIGS. 1-5, 6 and 11-20, a rotary cutting means 66 may be used. Rotary cutting means 66 may comprise: cutting portion 61; a ?exible drive shaft 68; a rigid drive shaft 70; and a conventional drive motor

assembly 72. Cutting portion 61 is de?ned by a rotary drill bit,

pivoted and/or rotated about pivot pin 52.

burr, or the like, which when rotated and urged against The angle of curvature, cross-sectional area, and 20 material 31 is capable of boring into material 31. For example, cutting portion 61 may comprise a carbide, depth of the curved bore to be formed, are dependent steel, diamond, or other hard material which is attached upon various factors including: the longitudinal length or welded to a terminal or distal end 74 of ?exible drive of rocker arm 24; the curved length of curved guide shaft 68. means 26; the crosssectional area of curved guide means Cutting portion 61 has cutting edges 73 (not shown) 26; the angle of rotation of rocker arm 24; and the cross 25 formed therein. Cutting edges 73 may be formed either sectional area of a cutting portion 61 of cutting means before or after cutting portion 61 is attached to ?exible 28. Such lengths, crosssectional areas, and angles of drive shaft 68. Where ?exible drive shaft 68 comprises rotation will in turn be dependent upon: the type of stainless steel or other metal, a portion of distal end 74 material 31 to be drilled; accessibility to that particular may be melted to form a hardened nugget 76 which is portion of material 31; the type of cutting means 28

used; and other factors commonly considered in drilling


processes. To enable drilling apparatus 20 to drill a curved bore

having a large angle of curvature or rotation, pivot pin


52 is located as near as possible or as is desirable to a 35

protrusion or edge 62 of housing 36. Rocker arm 24 is


secured to housing 36 in such a manner that when rocker arm 24 is pivoted or rotated, second end 60 of curved guide means 26 extends and cantilevers away

integral with a remaining portion of ?exible drive shaft 68. Nugget 76 may then be machined to form cutting portion 61 and cutting edges 73. A has been explained, distal end 74 of ?exible drive shaft 70 is rigidly secured to cutting portion 61. Distal end 74 is rotatably secured to housing 36 by being in serted into and held by securing means 64.

To enable passage of curved guide means 26 through the aforementioned curved path within material 31, the from housing 36, passing through a predetermined 40 crosssectional diameter of cutting portion 61 must be equal to or greater than the cross-sectional diameter of curved path. Thus, if material 31 is juxtaposed near curved guide means 26. In essence, securing means 64 edge _62 of housing 36, rotation or pivotal movement of

31. Proper alignment and path direction is provided by means 26 toward material 31. The forward, cantilevered, or extended second end 45 the curvilinear design and rotational movement of curved guide means 26. 60 of curved guide means 26 is provided with means 64
for securing cutting means 28 thereto. Securing means

rocker arm 24 will urge second end 60 of curved guide

urges cutting portion 61 against and through material

64 may comprise an anchoring sleeve, collar, bearing,


bushing, or other structure to hold and retain the lead

Flexible drive shaft 68 is generally a ?exible drill shaft or shank which is initially retained within enclo~ sure 38 of housing 36. As rocker arm 24 is pivoted,

ing, cutting portion 61 of cutting means 28 in place.


In one embodiment of the invention, curved guide
means 26 comprises a channel 65. Curved guide means

cutting portion 61, distal end 74 of ?exible drive shaft


68, securing means 64, and curved guide means 26 are

58 is designed with elongated side walls at second end

extended outwardly from within enclosure 38 through an opening in housing 36. Channel 65 is designed to guide, receive, and retain a 60 that can be folded or bent over to form a collar, ring, conduit, or bore through which cutting portion 61 may 55 forward portion 78 of ?exible drive shaft 68 a such forward portion 78 is extended outwardly from within pass and then be secured. In essence, the elongated side enclosure 38. As forward portion 78 is received within walls form a bearing surface within which cutting por channel 65 ?exible drive shaft 68 is urged along the tion 61 may be held and/or rotated. same curvilinear path as that experienced by curved CUTTING MEANS guide means 26. Once cutting portion 61 begins to drill
Cutting means 28 may comprise any apparatus or
into material 31, ?exible drive shaft 68 is further re

tained and supported by the interior sides of the bore created within material 31. As shown in FIG. 1, ?exible drive shaft 68 may ini and/or nontraditional machining processes may be used, including mechanical, electrochemical, and ther 65 tially move along a ?rst direction or approach path and then be directed by curved guide means 26 to pass along mal processes. a second or curvilinear path having a predetermined More particularly, the following processes may be degree of curvature. used for cutting means 28: a mechanical rotating drill bit

method which is capable of cutting or drilling material

31 within the con?nes of a curved bore. Traditional

11

5,002,546

12

The ?rst or approach path may be generally normal


to a surface of material 31. Alternatively, the ?rst ap

proach path may be from any desired angle with respect


to the surface of the material 31 to be drilled. FIG. 20 illustrates dual ?exible drive shafts 68 whose initial orientation is not normal to the surface of material 31.

shown in FIG. 1, tension spring 86 may be placed around expandable coupling 80. Tension spring 86 may also be provided with offset books 88 and 90 which
engage corresponding eyelets 92 and 94 on ?exible drive shaft 68 and on rigid drive shaft 70, respectively.
One or more mounting brackets 96 used to support

FIG. 1 illustrates a drilling apparatus 20 which will drill a curved bore that is generally located within a vertical plane. The curved bore begins within a third quadrant of a Cartesian coordinate system having its

axis through pivot pin 52 and then passes upwardly into


a second quadrant. FIGS. 4 and 5, illustrate another embodiment of dril ling apparatus 20 which will drill a curved bore that is generally located within a horizontal plane. The curved bore begins within a second quadrant of a Cartesian

rigid drive shaft 70 for rotational movement may be attached to or incorporated within housing 36. Mount ing brackets 96 are shown in FIGS. 1, 4-6 and 11-13. To present a clearer illustration of other elements, mounting brackets 96 have been omitted from the re

maining Figures. Collars, bearings, bushings and/or


other supporting structure (not shown) may also be
used to assure proper orientation, and movement of rigid drive shaft 70. For example, means 96 to ade

coordinate system having its axis through pivot pin 52


and then passes sideways into a third quadrant.
FIG. 6 illustrates an embodiment, wherein a curved

quately restrict longitudinal and lateral movement of rigid drive shaft 70 should be provided.
Drive motor assembly 72 may comprise any one of many drive motor units. A wide variety of different

bore is generally located within a vertical plan, how 20 drive motor units are commonly used within each par ever, the curved bore begins within a third quadrant ticular industry. The type and size of drive motor as and passes into a forth quadrant. sembly 72 will depend upon the availability of parts, FIG. 11 illustrates an embodiment, wherein a curved preference of the user, and purpose for which drilling bore is formed within a vertical plane beginning within apparatus 20 is used. Within the surgical and dental a second quadrant and passing into a third quadrant. 25 professions, hand-held drive motor units are commonly FIGS. 14-20 illustrate how rocker arm 24, curved

guide means 26, securing means 64, and cutting portion


61 may pivot within one plane and the initial orientation
or one or more ?exible drive shafts 68 may be within a

used.

'

In one embodiment, a drive motor assembly having a


30

different plane.
Such embodiments are only illustrative. Many other orientations and cutting paths may be created using the claimed invention.

controllable, powered, pneumatically driven motor 98 is used. For surgical environments, the inventor prefers to use a compressed, nitrogen pneumatic motor. Power
is supplied to motor 98 through a power cord or hose 99 which may extend outwardly from within enclosure 38

of housing 36. Alternatively, electric or hydraulic drive In summary, the present invention is not restricted to apparatus wherein ?exible drive shaft 68 must pass from 35 motors may be used. One or more mounting brackets 100 may be used to a rectilinear path to a curvilinear path. To the contrary, rigidly support motor 98 to housing 36. Motor 98 has a the initial orientation of ?exible drive shaft 68 is only a rotatable shaft 102 whereupon an angular coupling or matter of convenience. The primarily claimed invention gear connection is provided to transfer rotational move is the system whereby a curved bore is formed. ment from rotating shaft 102 to rigid drive shaft 70. As Elongated ?exible drive shaft 68 is operationally shown in FIG. 1, a pair of meshed bevel gears 104 and connected to an elongated rigid drive shaft 70 or shank 106, having intersecting axes are rigidly attached to which in turn is driven by a conventional drive motor rotatable shaft 102 and to rigid drive shaft 70, respec assembly. The connection of ?exible drive shaft 68 to tively. Rotation of shaft 102 turns bevel rear 104, which rigid drive shaft 70 may comprise any method or appa ratus which allows ?exible drive shaft 68 to be extended 45 in turn engages and rotates bevel gear 106 and rigid drive shaft 70. Other gear systems and angular cou into material 31. The process of drilling the bore neces
sarily requires ?exible drive shaft to follow the urging
and direction of curved guide means 26. If ?exible drive

plings could also be used.


In another embodiment, cutting means 28 may utilize

shaft 68 is not provided with sufficient length, binding


might occur. In one embodiment, drilling apparatus 20 is provided with an expandable coupling 80 which connects ?exible drive shaft 68 to rigid drive shaft 70. For example, ex

an electric discharge machining (EDM) process to cre


ate a curved bore. A drilling apparatus 20 which uses this process is illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10.

Electric- or electro- discharge machining (EDM)


cuts metal by discharging electric current stored in a capacitor bank (not shown) across a thin gap between a

pandable coupling 80 may comprise a pair of mated


have a square, rectangular, triangular, star-shaped, or other cross-sectional con?guration which ?ts into a mated slot, bore, or canula within female element 84.

male 82 and female 84 elements. Male element 82 may 55 tool or cutting portion 61 (cathode) and material 31

The particular con?guration is not necessarily impor


tant, just as long as the coupling or joint permits longi
tudinal expansion and still transmits rotational move ment from rigid drive shaft 70 to ?exible drive shaft 68.

(anode). Literally thousands of sparks per second are generated and each spark produces a tiny crater by melting and vaporizing the metal, thus eroding the shape of cutting portion 61 into material 31.
Cutting portion 61 may be made of a variety of mate

rials, including: graphite, copper, brass, coppertung~

sten, aluminum, 70/ 30 zinc tin, and other alloys. Graph~ ite, is the preferred material. The choice of material for a particular application depends upon such factors as: a closed, joined position. For example, a helical tension spring 86 may be provided to urge male element 82 into 65 how easily can cutting portion 61 be machined from the

Expandable coupling 80 may be spring-biased toward

engaged contact with female element 84. Tension spring 86 also restricts lateral movement of ?exible drive shaft 68 with respect to rigid drive shaft 70. As

material; how fast such material wears, or how suscepti ble the material is to spark erosion; how fast the particu lar material cuts; what kind of quality of ?nish can be

13

5,002,546

14

produced; what type of power supply is needed and/or is available; and how much the material costs. The distance between cutting portion 61 and the nearest surface of material 31 represents the overcut and is equal to the length of the spark. The length of the spark is essentially constant over all areas of cutting

For example, if electric discharge machining (EDM)


processes are used, pivotal connection 110, which trans
fers electrical power from a remote power source (not

shown) to cutting portion 61' without interruption of


electrical current during pivotal movement of rocker
arm 24, may be used. A wire 112 may be placed within a hollow, interior conduit of a tubular support structure 22, rocker arm 24, and curved guide means 26. This

portion 61, regardless of its size or shape. Typical over


cut values range from 0.0005 to 0.020 inches. Overcut depends on the gap voltage and amperage. With proper

tooling, the crosssectional dimension of cutting portion 61 is basically equal to the desired dimension of the part
less the overcut value. Material 31 may be immersed within a dielectric ?uid 108 which in turn is retained within a container 109 (shown in FIGS. 9 and 10). Dielectric ?uid 108 is used

greatly reduces and insulates the exposed portions of drilling apparatus 20. Similarly, a pivotal connector with transfers optical
transmissions, such as laser power, may also be used. As shown in FIG. 7, curved guide means 26 may

alternatively have an outwardly extending, arcuate, receiving channel 65 de?ned by sidewalls 116 and base
118. Receiving channel 65 is used to guide, receive, and retain a ?exible portion of cutting means 28. Thus, cut ting portion 61 may be directly connected to a remote
20

to: provide insulation properties between curved guide


means 26 and material 31; con?ne the sparks within a

local area immediately adjacent to cutting portion 61;


serve as a conductor for the sparks between cutting
portion 61 and material 31; serve as a coolant or heat bank to cool down rocker arm 24, curved guide means

power source (not shown).


For example, a ?exible optical conduit 119 may be enclosed within a protective insulator 120. Optical con duit is then connected to a source of laser light (not

26, securing means, and portions of cutting means 28; shown). As rocker arm 24 pivots about pivot pin 52, and to ?ush out debris located between cutting portion which is held in position by support structure 22", 61 and material 31. 25 curved guide means 26 and cutting portion 61" are Dielectric ?uid 108 must ionize to provide a channel advanced toward material 31. The motion and path of for the spark and then quickly deionized to become an curved guide means 26 cause optical conduit 119 and insulator at further distances from cutting portion 61. protective insulator 120 to be guided, received, and Polar compounds, like glycerine-water (90:10) with retained within channel 65. triethylene oil as an additive, may be used. Alterna Channel 65 may also be used with a rotary cutting tively, traditional cutting ?uids like kerosene may be portion 61, and ?exible drive shaft 68 as shown in FIGS. used. 1-6. Electric discharge machining (EDM) allows each Whether the curved guide means is a tube or channel spark to contain a discrete, measured, and controlled largely depends upon the cutting and machining pro amount of energy. This enables the cutting speed and cess used. surface ?nish to be accurately predicted, and the size of Thus, when rocker arm 24 is pivoted, curved guide the bore can be carefully controlled. The heat gener means guides and advances cutting means 28 away from ated by the sparks melts the metal, and the impact of the support structure 22 to bore a hole along a predeter spark causes the metal to be ejected, vaporized, and mined curved path within material 31. recast within dielectric ?uid 108 as spheres. Material 31 After the bore has been created, the motion of rocker of any hardness can be cut using this process, as long as arm 24 is reversed and curved guide means 26 and cut the material can conduct electricity. ting means 28 are removed from within material 31. The Electric discharge machining (EDM) removes almost
all mechanical forces which would otherwise be re

quired to drill a bore. Thus, fragile parts may be easily tooled with the present invention using and EDM pro
cess.

Increased controllability, versatility, and accuracy of


the EDM process allows the present invention to drill curved bores in carbides, steels, and metals of any hard

insertion and retraction of curved guide means 26 and cutting means 28 into and from material 31 is de?ned by the oscillation of rocker arm 24. When rocker arm 24, curved guide means 26, and cutting portion 61 of cutting means 28 lie within a com mon plane, curved bores may be created which have up to a 180 degree rotation. In other words, the length of

ness, signi?cantly reducing the cost that would other wise be required to manufacture tools and dies to

achieve a similar result. means 26 by a value of 11'. As shown in FIG. 8, some processes allow a portion Alternatively, rocker arm 24, curved guide means 26, of cutting means 28 to be placed and contained within a 55

the curved bore may generally be determined by multi plying the length of rocker arm 24 between pivot pin 52 and the center of the rigidly attached curved guide
and cutting portion 61 may de?ne a helical drilling apparatus 20 which forms a cylindrical spiral bore. This

hollow, interior cavity of an arcuate, tubular, curved


guide means 26'. Rocker arm 24 and support structure

22 may also comprise tubular members. Outer walls


109 of curved guide means 26' serve to protect and insulate cutting means 28.

may be accomplished by securing a helically shaped


curved guide means (not shown) to the extended second end 56 of rocker arm 24. Cutting portion 61 is secured to the cantilevered second end 60 of curved guide
means 26. This design enables rocker arm 24 to be piv
oted more than 360 degrees and to actually serve as a

An appropriately designed pivotal connection 110


may be provided at or near pivot pin 52 to transfer cutting power from a remote power source (not shown)

to a leading, boring tip or cutting portion 61 which is


secured near second end 60 of curved guide means 26'. Pivotal connection 110 may be any one of a multitude of connections which are commonly known and used

crank, screwing cutting portion 61 and curved guide


means 26 into the material. Of course, rocker arm 24

within mechanical engineering.

would necessarily have to move along its axis of rota tion towards material 31 as curved guide means 26 is inserted into material 31.