Magnetically Assisted Robotic Fetal Surgery for the Treatment of Spina Bifida
Spina bifida is a congenital defect that occurs on the vertebral spine of a fetus. The most severe form causes exposure of the spinal cord and spinal nerve and has important repercussions on the life of the newborn child. Current prenatal operative procedures require laparotomy of the abdomen as well as hysterotomy of the uterus, which can result in severe consequences and risks for the mother. Here, we propose a robotically assisted endoscopic procedure based on magnetically steerable catheters to treat spina bifida defects in a minimally invasive way. The procedure can be performed in a fully remote manner using magnetic guidance and a haptic controller. Four custom magnetic catheter designs are presented to image, sever, grasp and close the lesion on the fetus back. We demonstrate our approach in vitro using phantom models of the abdomen, the uterus, and the defected fetus.