About the Fetal Heart Program

The Fetal Heart Program at CHOP is a national leader in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of fetal heart disease prior to birth. Each year, we perform more than 3,700 fetal echocardiograms, making the program one of the largest of its kinds.

The experience and knowledge of our team and the excellence of our facilities allow us to offer parents the utmost in care and planning during a most difficult time.

The Fetal Heart Program is part of CHOP's Cardiac Center, and works closely with experts from the Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment to provide seamless, well-coordinated care for you and your baby. The program was created to offer every resource expectant families could need, including expert evaluation and diagnosis, planning for delivery, and care for your newborn after birth. Here, your family will have access to the most advanced treatments available — with outcomes that are among the world’s best.

The Fetal Heart Program is unique in that expectant families are cared for by a dedicated, multidisciplinary team. Our patients benefit from the expertise of the Cardiac Center’s pediatric cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiac anesthesiologists, nurses and a social worker, all of whom often work hand-in-hand with CHOP’s maternal-fetal medicine specialists, genetic counselors, and other specialists throughout the Hospital.

Why you might come to the Fetal Heart Program

If your physician identifies something that looks unusual in your unborn baby’s heart, he may refer you to the Fetal Heart Program for a more thorough examination, including a fetal echocardiogram.

Most Common Types of Fetal Congenital Heart Disease Seen by CHOP's Fetal Heart Program

This chart shows the number of cases of the most common types of fetal congenital heart disease seen by the Fetal Heart Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) between 2008 and 2014.

 
Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS): 285
 
Single ventricle (SV): 265
 
Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF): 256
 
Coarctation of the aorta or
aortic arch hypoplasia (CoA/AAH): 185
 
Atrioventricular canal defects (AVC): 121
 
Transposition of the great arteries (TGA): 116

 

 
 

You might also be referred to the Fetal Heart Program for other reasons, including:

  • A family history of congenital heart disease (CHD)
  • Tests that reveal your baby has a genetic or chromosomal abnormality
  • You have used assistive reproductive technologies
  • You have certain health conditions, such as diabetes

However you come to us, the program’s team will be with you through your pregnancy, delivery and afterward, providing the most advanced treatment options and the most comprehensive care available anywhere. At the Fetal Heart Program, your care will be as individual as your pregnancy.

Your first appointment at the Fetal Heart Program

During your initial visit to the Fetal Heart Program, you will undergo a comprehensive evaluation that includes a fetal echocardiogram — a safe, noninvasive ultrasound — to assess the structure and function of your unborn baby's heart. Immediately following your fetal echocardiogram, you will consult with members of our core team, which includes pediatric cardiologists with expertise in fetal heart care, nurse coordinators and a social worker.

Comprehensive planning and care after diagnosis

Prenatal diagnosis allows valuable time to consider options and plan care. As your pregnancy progresses, we will perform regular echocardiograms to monitor how your baby’s heart is developing and whether changes are occurring. This allows our team to tailor our approach to care for your baby’s precise needs.

Your Fetal Heart Program team will remain in close and frequent contact with your obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) to plan the best delivery options and treatment for your baby. You may also have the option to deliver in the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit (SDU), which is adjacent to the cardiac intensive care unit and cardiac operating rooms. In the SDU, the first birth facility in the world exclusively for mothers carrying babies prenatally diagnosed with conditions such as congenital heart disease, newborns are in the hands of experts immediately, and parents and baby stay close.

Superior outcomes

Our team includes more than 50 cardiologists and cardiac anesthesiologists, four cardiothoracic surgeons, and more than 350 additional specially trained cardiac staff. Our surgical team performs more than 850 of the most common and most complex pediatric heart surgeries each year — with survival rates that are among the best in the nation.

Our patients also have access to physicians in every one of CHOP's top-ranked specialties, who work together to provide the multidisciplinary care cardiac patients need.


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