BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
'Skull-drillers' put on probation
Brain cross-section
The treatment is said by some to improve mental function
Two men who helped carry out a bizarre procedure in which a hole was drilled in a British woman's head have been spared jail.

Trepanning is thought by some proponents of alternative medicine to improve mental capacity by relieving pressure on the brain and improving blood flow.

Heather Perry, from Gloucester, travelled to Utah last February to undergo the procedure, aided by Peter Halvorson, 54, and William Lyons, 56.

Both men pleaded guilty to practising medicine without a licence, and were fined and put on probation.

Both were also ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation.

Ms Perry, a chronic fatigue sufferer who has since returned to the UK, said she had experienced a "definite improvement" in her health since the procedure.

However, court papers suggested she had suffered some side effects, such as the leakage of brain fluid.

Shown on television

The "operation" was filmed and broadcast on national US news.

According to court documents, Ms Perry injected herself with local anaesthetic, then used a scalpel, with Halvorsen holding a mirror, to make a cut.

Halvorsen is then said to have used an instrument to spread the skin away from the skull, and Lyons drilled a hole.

The British woman learned about trepanning after exchanging emails with Halvorsen, who has himself undergone the operation.

She said at the time: "I know what I've done sounds totally ridiculous and I can understand the reaction I've provoked...but I felt something radical needed to be done.

"I can't say the effects have been dramatic but they are there. I definitely feel better and there's definitely more mental clarity."

Halvorsen told the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper that the case had helped promote the cause of the surgery.

He said: "It's personally been helpful to me. It provided an impulse to me to find a way to do this legally. But I'm not glad I was charged."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

22 Feb 00 | Health
Woman carries out DIY surgery
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories