Why Choose CHOP for Fetal Surgery

Fetal surgery is a huge decision for your family. At the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, we have the expertise, experience and compassion to perform the most complex surgical procedures on your baby while still in the womb.

We have crafted our program to meet the needs of your family and other families like yours who are dealing with an uncertain future for an unborn baby.

Pioneers in fetal medicine

Members of our team have been pioneering advances in fetal therapy since the field originated several decades ago, and have the greatest collective experience in the world. After being created in 1995, our program quickly became recognized as an international leader in fetal care.

Before we could offer any fetal therapy, we had to ensure it was safe for the pregnant mother. Center leaders were among the founders of modern fetal medicine and worked alongside other leading surgeons and researchers in experimental laboratories to develop the techniques that are used clinically today.

Experienced multidisciplinary team

The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment is one of the most experienced programs in the world, in both fetal repair and in providing an exceptional breadth and depth of care for pregnancies complicated by birth defects. More than 2,328 patients have undergone fetal surgery at our Center, the largest number of any hospital in the world.

The Center's large multidisciplinary team, including fetal surgeons, neurosurgeons, maternal and fetal anesthesiologists, fetal cardiologists, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists and advanced practice operating room, labor and delivery and neonatal surgery nurses has worked together since 1995 — a level of ongoing collaboration that is unmatched.

Hear from families and clinicians about what sets us apart:

Coordinated care in one location

All of your care will be provided in one comfortable, family-centered location that was designed to produce optimal outcomes for you and your baby.

Our facilities, which include a centralized area for prenatal diagnostic imaging and dedicated fetal operating rooms, have been designed specifically for fetal surgery patients and babies with prenatally diagnosed birth defects.

  • CHOP’s Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit (SDU) is the world’s first birth facility designed for healthy mothers carrying babies with known birth defects. You will stay in the SDU before and after fetal surgery, and again when it is time to deliver your baby. Having a dedicated birth unit within a pediatric hospital means expert care for both you and your baby before, during and after birth. The SDU is fully equipped to manage the delicate delivery required after fetal surgery.
  • CHOP’s renowned Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU) is consistently ranked among the best in the nation for newborn care and is experienced in caring for babies born after fetal surgery.
  • The Hospital offers several comprehensive long-term follow-up programs to ensure your baby has ongoing care and support as they grow.

Access to top pediatric specialists

CHOP is consistently ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of the nation’s Best Children’s Hospitals. These rankings mean your child will receive some of the best care available in the country at CHOP.

For children who undergo fetal surgery to treat complex birth defects, this means direct access to the nation’s best across the variety of pediatric subspecialties that may be involved in their care. Among others, experts from neonatology, pulmonology, neurology, cardiology, urology, orthopedics, radiology, gastroenterology and nutrition are immediately available.

Support services for your family

From the time of diagnosis through fetal surgery and delivery, you can expect a supportive environment and a commitment to making the experience as easy as possible on your entire family.

We offer a full range of support services and support staff that can help you and your family overcome challenges in receiving care and cope with your baby's diagnosis and treatment, and connect you with additional resources closer to your home.

  • Before you make your decision about fetal surgery, we will explain every detail about the experience and answer all of your questions during a thorough counseling session.
  • Our dedicated psychosocial service team, including a clinical psychologist and social workers, provides emotional support, individualized and couple's counseling, supportive therapy, and social work services.
  • Our Center’s team is experienced in working with many insurance plans to facilitate care for families who seek our services. We also have resources available to assist families with travel-related and other expenses associated with coming to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We are happy to discuss your individual situation and needs.

Adherence to fetal surgery standards and guidelines

Fetal surgery is an extremely delicate, complex procedure. Our Center is committed to maintaining optimal patient safety and following high standards for fetal surgery. We adhere to strict criteria when determining which patients qualify for fetal intervention.

For example, we follow the guidelines for fetal myelomeningocele (MMC) repair laid out by the MMC Maternal-Fetal Management Task Force in February 2014, which included a member of our team. These guidelines detail the expertise and services required to be considered an established fetal therapy center, including proper surgical management, long-term care, necessary counseling and requirements for outcomes reporting. These are important guidelines that should be considered for any fetal intervention.

A commitment to advancing care through research

Our team members have been published in a wide variety of recognized scientific journals — helping to advance the field of fetal medicine with our basic and clinical research findings.

Most recently, experts at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia co-led the landmark Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS). The controlled, clinical trial showed that fetal surgery for spina bifida can provide improved outcomes for families faced with this devastating condition. The study showed that prenatal repair greatly reduces the need to divert fluid from the brain, improves mobility and improves the chances that a child will be able to walk independently. Today, that study continues, with important follow-up that will allow clinical teams to compare the lasting outcomes of prenatal repair versus standard postnatal repair.

Screenshot of CFDT tour video

Tour our Fetal Center

Watch this video tour to learn what to expect at your first visit to the Wood Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

Pregnant Mom and Child

What to Expect

From the moment of referral through delivery and postnatal care, your family can expect a supportive experience when you come to us with a diagnosis of a birth defect.

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Roberto Rodriquez Jr. was the first-ever fetal surgery patient at CHOP, undergoing a prenatal procedure to remove a lung lesion in 1995.

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"Fetal Surgery was Miah's best shot."

Miah is an energetic, talkative 7-year-old who doesn’t let anything get in her way.


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Fetal surgery at CHOP helped save Chance’s kidney function after a LUTO diagnosis. His family continues to travel from Brooklyn for care.