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Robot to Operate on Babies in the Womb



Robot to Operate on Unborn Babies Bella Naija

Thanks to new robotics technologies, some birth defects in newborns could one day be eradicated. 

Sebastien Ourselin, a Professor from the UCL Center for Medical Image Computing, is leading the new research project on this innovative technology.

“Most birth defects can be prevented if we can intervene earlier. But currently, surgical delivery systems are not available and operating on babies in the womb is reserved for just a handful of the most severe defects as risks are too high,” says Ourselin. 

Spina bifida is one such diseases that the robotic arm will have the capability to perform surgery for. The disease affects about 1 in 2,500 newborns worldwide, where a lesion on the back leaves the spinal cord exposed in the womb, which leads to learning difficulties, severe disabilities, and in some cases, death.

To reduce the risk involved in fetal surgeryscientists at University College London (UCL), and KU Leuven in Belgium are developing miniscule robotic arms to enter the womb with minimum disruption to mother and baby, CNN reports. 

Ourselin’s team plans to create a small three-armed robot, no more than 2 cm wide, to allow more surgeries occur, as part of a $17 million project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Wellcome Trust.

Photo Credit: CNN/Denise Peoreira

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