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I am wondering if anyone is exploring doing prenatal/fetal surgery using micro-robotic devices controlled "by wire", a sort of local-remote surgery?

There are a number of medical conditions that are treated by fetal (in utero) surgery, spina bifida being an example. Such procedures are done either as open fetal surgery (similar to c-section procedures) or by fetoscopic ("keyhole") surgery. Both of these procedures carry significant risks and constraints in order for the fetus to remain viable. While fetoscopy is certainly far safer than open surgery it is limited in what can be done and is more rare due to the advanced surgical skills required.

In my (non-medical) opinion it seems that endoscopic utero insertion of micro-robotic devices with a trailing control wire would allow a far wider range of procedures as well as minimize the effective trauma to the mother & the fetus. It also might allow for more available surgeons/surgeries since it would not require advanced endoscopic skills.

  • Not quite what you're asking about but about 15 years ago I worked on a computer assisted prenatal heart surgery system, it was human controlled but assisted with imaging which was essentially live ultrasound overlaid with trajectories of tracked tools (mostly rigid tools like catheter needles). It wasn't as flexible as e.g. full endoscopic surgery, it was designed for a specific procedure, but it did cut hours off the procedure that would normally be spent waiting for the fetus to move to a good position. – Jason C Feb 29 '16 at 13:07
  • ... And I'm sure the tech, at least, is around today. Also check out en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetoscopy as a starting point. – Jason C Feb 29 '16 at 13:09

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