Rice students develop monitor for fetal procedures

The prototype that was developed by Rice University students was funded through the Willy Revolution Award. | Contributed photo

Senior engineering students from Rice University have worked with the Texas Chilldren's Fetal Center to design a monitoring device for oxygen and heartbeat during an endoscopic fetal surgery.

The goal of this project was to mimic the capabilities of a pulse oximeter that is placed on an adult patient in a doctor’s office. 

The university states that blood oxygen levels has not been available in these cases, which can include surgeries to rectify spina bifida or other congenital conditions.

The team consisted of bioengineering students Claudia Iriondo, Samir Saudi, Kathryn Wallace and Thomas Loughlin working with Baylor College of Medicine associate professor of OB/GYN Dr. Magdalena Sanz Cortez.

“This project was challenging because of the size of the instruments that we work with,” Sanz Cortes said. “When we started talking about the whole project, we talked about the size of a pulse oximeter. Transforming that into the size of the device they have created is very challenging.”

This project was funded through the Willy Revolution Award that granted $5,000 in prize money during the Engineering Design Showcase.

Loughlin said the device consists of components found in traditional pulse oximeters that was placed onto circuit boards. 

Another challenge with this design process was making sure that the device would be safe for the unborn child and that do not inhibit the surgical practices, Sanz Magdalena noted.

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