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To examine the amount of heat generated in equine cortical bone by a 6.2-mm drill, using low- and high-speed and controlled feed rate drilling.

Sample Population

10 metacarpal bones harvested from five 2-year-old draft-type horses.


Drilling on metacarpal bones was done using a machine shop mill with which the feed rate and drill speed could be precisely controlled. Bones were drilled, using 6 combinations of feed rate (1, 2, and 3 mm advance/s) and drill speed (317 and 1,242 revolutions/min [rpm], with maximal temperatures recorded by thermocouples placed 1, 1.5, and 2 mm from the drill. Maximal temperatures were evaluated for the effect of feed rate, drill speed, cortical thickness, and distance from the drill, using linear regression analysis.


Increasing feed rate from 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3 mm/s significantly decreased mean maximal temperature. Increasing drill speed from 317 to 1242 rpm significantly increased mean maximal temperature. Increasing cortical thickness significantly increased mean maximal temperature, and increasing the distance from the drill hole significantly decreased mean maximal temperatures.


On the basis of our results, we recommend using low drill speeds while applying sufficient axial force to advance the drill as rapidly as possible through the bone.

Clinical Relevance

Results of using this in vitro model suggest that temperatures at the drill-bone interface may be sufficiently high to result in significant thermal necrosis when drilling equine cortical bone. (Am J Vet Res 1999;60:942–944)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research