Making Digital Matter - Surgical Training Fetus
Research Team Lead
Francis LeBouthillier
Francis LeBouthillier
OCAD University
Medical surgeons need to hone their skills prior to performing high-risk surgical procedures on fetuses in utero and on newborns. To date, highly representational 3-dimensional fetal models, that have life-like physical properties, do not exist. The goal of our research project is to create a series of accurate and responsive fetal models to help surgeons visualize the complex physiology of a newly developing fetus and their associated pathologies. These models will provide surgeons with the visual and tactile information necessary to confidently implement highly complicated fetal surgical procedures.
Research Description:
(Wiley), Mount Sinai Hospital's Special Pregnancy Program (Windrim) and the Hospital for Sick Children (Seed) we plan to develop a surgical training fetus using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scan data. This high fidelity 3-dimensional medical model will be manufactured from synthetic materials to accurately represent the tactile and life-like characteristics of the human body. The data derived from MRI/CT scans will be used to create digital forms that will be produced through rapid prototyping technology (Habets, Phillips, Zariwny). We will then employ a complex moulding system to produce a pliable three-dimensional model containing the vital organs, skeletal structures and soft tissues.

Surgical Training Fetus Once constructed, the Surgical Training Fetus models will be used to simulate a variety of medical conditions that surgeons could address through laparoscopic and ultrasound-guided surgical procedures in-utero and on newborns. This project will involve extensive research and development in the application of highly specialized software packages that support the creation of three-dimensional models from MRI/CT data.

Some of our key design challenges in this project encompass how to manufacture the fetal models in materials that can be visible within an ultrasound and MR/CT scan environment. Success in this area will enable surgical teams to use crucial visualization tools (MR/CT scans) to guide invasive perinatal surgeries. We are also researching new approaches to manufacturing technology that facilitate the 3-D printing of soft and pliable materials that have characteristics similar to the human body.

The Surgical Training Fetus model could be used to address such fetal surgeries as:
  • Fetal Oral Teratoma
  • Fetal Bladder Obstructions
  • Aortic or Pulmonary Valvuloplasty - opening the aortic or pulmonary fetal heart valves to allow blood flow
  • Atrial Septostomy - opening the inter-atrial septum of the fetal heart to allow unrestricted blood flow between the atriums
  • Critical Aortic Stenosis – narrowing of the main outlet valve of the left ventricle.
  • Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia - Balloon tracheal occlusion
  • Spina Bifida - Fetoscopic closure of the malformation
Amanda Khan
MD/PhD, University of Toronto, Research Assistant - Hospital for Sick Children's Centre for Image Guided Care
Arash Sadr
Bdes, OCADU Industrial Design
Gregory Phillips
BFA, OCADU MAAD program; Masters of Digital Media - candidate, Ryerson University, Research Assistant
Maggie Greyson
Master of Design Strategic Foresight and Innovation - candidate 2016, OCADU
Michael Wiley
University of Toronto, Division of Anatomy, Department of Surgery
Rob Brooks
PhD Mechanical Engineering, University of Toronto, Research Assistant - Hospital for Sick Children's Centre for Image Guided Care
Shirley Hutchinson
BSc, MD, MSc Translational Research in Healthcare (candidate 2017)

STTARR, Mars District, Medical Imaging