The GIFT Surg project

"UCL is working towards a major development in surgery on unborn babies thanks to a £10 million award from the Wellcome Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), under the ‘Innovative Engineering for Health’ initiative.
This new research project, titled GIFT-Surg (Guided Instrumentation for Fetal Therapy and Surgery), is led by UCL in collaboration with KU Leuven in Belgium, who will work with surgeons and doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College London Hospital NHS Trust and UZ Leuven as part of a highly multidisciplinary team.
GIFT-Surg will engineer a novel combination of innovative interventional imaging systems and MRI/ultrasound scans to provide extremely accurate visualisation, both pre-operative and real-time, which will be used by the surgeon in conjunction with advanced surgical tools that offer new levels of flexibility and precision. A training platform will also be developed to equip surgeons with the necessary skills in the treatment of congenital birth defects such as spina bifida and twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome."
"GIFT-Surg is working to develop an extended flexible mechatronic multi-finger device that will be fed in through a small incision, of  approximately 4mm, in the abdomen of the mother. This device will enable surgeons to operate and perform complex procedures  from outside the womb. The three “fingers” of the device will offer the surgeon superior dexterity and better vision at the surgery  site. While two of the fingers can carry out delicate procedures, in the case of spina bifida, patching up the source of the protrusion  from the spine, the third will carry an innovative endoscopic imaging system that will create 3D images of the environment inside  womb and acquire tissue properties making it possible to identify anatomic structures on and below the tissue surfaces. The  surgeon will have direct and real-time access to these images and guidance cues which will be clearly displayed on a screen visible  to them in the operating theatre. The images will also serve as a feedback for guiding the dexterous instrumentised ar
Key Impacts include: 
  • Creation of flexible instru ments that are designed to allow surgeons to perform minimally invasive surgery  with improved safety and efficacy
  • Allow surgeons to actively and reliably work in a fragile, complex and real-time environment 
  • Enable surgeons to better prepare for surgeries by providing more pre-operative data 
  • Provide clearer visualisations and  greater scope of view for surgeons."
The project has already created some valuable open-source software packages.

mosaic from Pankaj Daga on Vimeo.

Source: GIFT Surg


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