March 1, 2004 — Verimetra Inc., a Pittsburgh-based maker of MEMS devices for the medical industry, received a $100,000 grant to develop tools and technologies that would help surgeons perform fetal heart surgeries.
The grant from the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse will be shared with the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University’s Medical Robotics Technology Center to develop sensors and guidance technologies embedded on tiny catheters for treating obstructions in the fetal heart’s left ventricle. The seed money allows the team to move out of the basic investigation stage, and start developing and testing prototypes.
Such operations have been experimental and rare because surgeons cannot see or feel once a medical device has moved through the mother’s abdomen, uterus, and into the fetus’ heart. The Pittsburgh researchers say the tools they are developing could serve as a surgeon’s eyes and hands — providing navigation and positioning information transmitted to a display while measuring temperatures, forces and pressures.