Fetal interventions can prevent potentially disabling damages to the unborn babies and are among the most challenging to perform, due to difficult access, reduced vision and maneuverability, lack of information on what to expect inside the patient, and extreme fragility of the patient.
For this reason, it is very important that surgeons have access to realistic simulators to plan the surgery well ahead of time and train all the difficult steps of the interventions before entering the operative room.
Recent advances in medical imaging techniques, artificial intelligence and mixed reality promise to have a profound impact in how those surgeries are performed.
ASTRA main objective is to create an augmented reality based surgical training system centered on Twin-to-twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), a condition that occurs in monochorionic twins where both fetuses are connected to one single placenta. In around one third of cases, a blood flow imbalance will develop that result in the death of both the twins in more than 90% of cases. When TTTS is established, the only option is to separate blood circulation of both fetuses by coagulation the blood vessels connections with a laser.
Thanks to EPIC Megagrant support, we will develop our trainer using Unreal Engine and Magic Leap. This will be a great breakthrough that will change forever the way training for fetal surgeries is performed and will positively impact life conditions for these patients.