Master Project: Fetal Membrane Repair
Semester Thesis FS 2019                               University of Zurich  / ETH Züich

Numerical Investigations of Stent Folding and Deployment
for Fetal Membrane Repair

Advances in fetal diagnosis and therapies permit nowadays to intervene surgically during pregnancy to treat potentially life threatening conditions. Human intervention in the amniotic cavity is not without risks for both the fetus and the mother. The punched amniotic membrane lacks healing potential and bursts in up to 80% of all fetoscopies. Efficient techniques to seal the membrane could significantly extend pregnancy duration after such interventions and thus reducing complications and morbidity of the fetus.

We have developed an umbrella-shaped device that enables securing a biocompatible sealant on the fetal membrane. This patented technique enables the solidification of the amniotic membrane, which prevents membrane rupture and makes the fetoscopy safe.

Figure 1: (A) and (B) show the stent with and without umbrella. The applicator and glue injector are shown in (C).

Research Focus
The aim of the project is to develop a finite element (FE) based numerical model of the Nitinol stent which carries the polymeric umbrella. In particular, this involves:

·    Development of an efficient, parametrized beam-element based FE model in ABAQUS
·    Modeling and implementation of the crimping and deployment procedure
·    Experimental validation of the FE model
·    Influence of geometric parameters: how do shape variations affect global stiffness behavior?

This marks the first step towards a more general shape optimization for the final design process, helping to get the device from the bench into surgery rooms.

If you are interested in the development of mechanical FE models and geometric programming (Python or MATLAB) in the field of biomedical engineering, contact us!

Dr. Yannick Devaud,
Dr. Raoul Hopf,

ehrbarLab. USZ / IMES, ETHZ

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