Tiny, 3-Armed Robot Could Perform Surgery on Babies in Womb

European researchers are developing a three-armed robot to perform keyhole surgery to correct congenital defects on babies in the womb.


Researchers in Europe are developing a tiny surgical robot hand that can take 3D images of and treat unborn babies with spina bifida and other congenital conditions, according to the International Business Times. The scientists envision that it could also carry out surgery or deliver stem cells to an unborn infant’s damaged organs.

The project is being carried out by engineers at University College London and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.

“The aim is to create less invasive surgical technologies to treat a wide range of diseases in the womb, with considerably less risk to both mother and baby,” says project leader Professor Sebastien Ourselin of the UCL Centre for Medical Image Computing.

The project, being funded by the Wellcome Trust, is to develop instruments based on the latest optics and robotics. For example, a very thin, highly flexible probe would be inserted into the womb of a woman carrying a child with spina bifida.

The head of the probe would have one strand fitted with a tiny camera using laser pulses and ultrasound detection – a combination known as photo-acoustic imaging – to generate a 3D image inside the womb. The probe’s other arms would also be fitted with tiny instruments that could carry a piece of gel or a patch that would be laid over the gap in the baby’s spine.

Currently, most designs are for a three-pronged device that has one arm fitted with a camera and two that are fitted with pincers or other instruments. “We are still in the design stage, so we could end up with a device with four or five arms in the end,” says Ourselin.



in the Health & Sports Hub

Editors’ Picks

RoboBusiness Speaker: ‘Automate or Die’
RoboBusiness speaker Daniel Theobald, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Vecna, says...

How Microsoft’s AI Mastered Ms. Pac-Man
A Microsoft AI system has set the all-time high score for the...

Melonee Wise to Deliver RoboBusiness Closing Keynote
Melonee Wise, CEO of RBR50 company Fetch Robotics, will deliver the closing...

MIT Robogami Lets You Design 3D-Printed Robots in Minutes
MIT CSAIL’s “Interactive Robogami” lets you design and 3D-print origami-inspired robots...