Our Approach to Care: What You Can Expect | The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment

Our Approach to Care: What You Can Expect

From the moment you are referred to the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, we are here for you. Whether you travel across town or across the country to reach us, chances are you are frightened, confused and determined to get the best possible care for your unborn child.

Our multidisciplinary team has been together since 1995 and have treated some of the most complex fetal anomalies in the world. Our board-certified specialists, surgeons, physicians and clinical team are pioneers in the field of fetal medicine. Through innovation and research, we are changing the course of treatment for many children with birth defects.

As one of the top-ranked and largest children's hospital in the US, we have cared for more than 15,700 expectant parents from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. Because of the depth and breadth of our experience, we are uniquely qualified to help you get the answers you need to make the best decisions for your family.

Here's what you can expect from us.

About your first call

When you call the Center, an experienced clinical coordinator (a nurse or genetic counselor) will speak with you, gather information and answer any preliminary questions you have. The coordinator will schedule a consultation as soon as possible. If you are traveling to Philadelphia, we can help with arrangements and accommodations. The coordinator will arrange all test results and reports from your referring physician to be sent to us. 

About your visit

Your visit to our Center is planned so everything takes place in a single day. We understand the anxiety you may be feeling and want you to have the information you need as quickly as possible.

When you arrive at Children's Hospital, one of our clinical coordinators will greet you, collect additional medical information and outline the plan for the day, which will include a tour of our facilities.

Expert diagnosis

Because accurate diagnosis is essential to planning treatment, we will perform tests to establish or confirm the suspected condition.


Our team of board-certified fetal radiologists provide detailed high-resolution fetal ultrasound, including 3-D and 4-D imaging. The team uses highly specialized equipment to ensure the best images possible are obtained during each stage of pregnancy, allowing for earlier and more accurate diagnosis of fetal anomalies. There are specific protocols designed for each suspected fetal anomaly, and families can observe the projected scans while they are in progress.

Fetal echocardiogram

Our team of experienced fetal cardiologists and dedicated fetal sonographers performs more than 3,500 studies a year. The team's expertise in this noninvasive ultrasound procedure provides an invaluable diagnostic tool for assessing the structure and function of the fetal heart.

Other diagnosis tests may include:


Once test results are completed, you will meet with members of our expert multidisciplinary team, including: 

Depending on your diagnosis, the care team may also include pediatric subspecialists from plastic surgery, urology, nephrology, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics and other disciplines.

The team will explain its findings in detail and take time to answer all of your questions. They will outline treatment options, making sure you have all the information you need to make the best decision for your family. In addition to our social workers who are there to help guide you through the entire process, the CFDT is the only fetal treatment center to have a dedicated clinical psychologist on staff, specifically focused on providing emotional support and counseling for families with diagnosed birth defects.

After our meeting, we will contact your physician by telephone and send correspondence regarding the consultation within 24-48 hours.


The Center team is constantly working to refine and advance the techniques used to treat fetal anomalies before and after birth. About 10 percent of the conditions we see require open fetal surgery or minimally invasive fetoscopic procedures. Others may need less invasive procedures performed at the Center. Still others may require only careful monitoring until delivery, with treatment planned for after the baby is born.

In many cases, monitoring can be co-managed with your physician, requiring fewer trips to Children's Hospital. Whatever plan of treatment you follow, our team is here to answer your questions, provide information and support you in any way we can.


Your baby's condition and other factors will determine whether delivery occurs at your home hospital or in Children's Hospital's Lynne L. and William M. Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit (SDU), the world's first birth facility for healthy mothers carrying babies with known birth defects that need surgery before or shortly after birth.

The SDU allows our team to expand its spectrum of care — from diagnosis and prenatal monitoring through delivery and postnatal care. Delivering at Children's Hospital means that both you and your baby will receive state-of-the-art care — and you'll never be far apart during your stay.

The SDU offers:

Contact us

For more information or to request an appointment, call 1-800-IN-UTERO (1-800-468-8376), or use our convenient online form.

Updated: November 2013

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