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Fetal Medicine

We care for children's health from the time they are in their mothers' wombs with advanced prenatal diagnosis. We are leaders in fetal medicine and surgery.

One in every ten fetuses will have at least one problem in its mother's womb. Most of these problems are mild, but unfortunately some are serious and may compromise the fetus's survival or quality of life when it is born.

Weeks in the life of a fetus equate with years for a child or decades for an adult. Therefore, by seeking solutions to problems that occur during the fetal stage of life, we open a window of opportunity that is unique in terms of early diagnosis and intervention.

Fetal medicine specialties

Prenatal diagnosis

The benefit of prenatal diagnosis in detecting fetal problems, however serious, is undeniable. Appropriately managing each case in accordance with the latest knowledge significantly improves outcomes in a wide range of mild and serious fetal diseases.

Moreover, the prenatal diagnosis techniques applied in some prenatal procedures may save the fetus's life or significantly improve its future quality of life.

Fetal echocardiography

Fetal echocardiography detects congenital heart diseases, which affect approximately 0.8-1% of newborns and which in half of cases are serious defects.

It is not covered by public health

Non-invasive PD. Genetic abnormalities in maternal blood

This detects the risk of chromosomal or genetic abnormalities. It combines a first-trimester ultrasound and a test to detect fetal DNA in maternal blood.

It is not covered by public health

Non-invasive test of fetal lung maturity

Our fetal R&D team has developed a technique in which a computerised analysis is performed on an ultrasound of fetal lungs to determine their maturity.

It is not covered by public health

Fetal neurosonography

This detects central nervous system defects. A multidisciplinary approach by geneticists, neurologists, neonatologists, pathologists and specialists in Fetal Medicine.

It is not covered by public health

Fetal magnetic resonance imaging

Fetal MRI obtains images of the fetus's anatomy before birth to detect potential birth defects. It is a technique that complements standard ultrasound.

It is not covered by public health

High-resolution fetal ultrasound

High-resolution ultrasound allows the diagnosis of up to 85% of defects with a structural or morphological manifestation.

It is not covered by public health

Fetal medicine and surgery

BCNatal is among the largest Fetal Medicine and Surgery centres in the world. We are highly specialised in endoscopic fetal surgery and our surgeons are the most experienced in the world, with more than 1,600 operations to date. We treat more than 200 cases each year. 

We offer highly specialised examinations and procedures in Fetal Medicine and Surgery intended to treat different diseases.

Twins: twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome

We approach TTTS in the mother's womb with fetoscopic laser surgery, a high-precision technique. We have treated more than 700 cases with a 90% survival rate.

It is not covered by public health



The treatment of omphalocele is performed after birth by a paediatric surgeon and consists of closing the abdominal wall defect.

It is not covered by public health


The treatment of gastroschisis is performed after birth by a paediatric surgeon and consists of closing the abdominal wall defect.

It is not covered by public health

Intestinal obstruction

Comprehensive monitoring of the pregnancy by our multidisciplinary team which acts to detect potential complications and ensure the best possible clinical course.

It is not covered by public health

Congenital diaphragmatic hernia

Following a comprehensive evaluation and establishment of the prognosis, the parents and medical team assess different management options: treatment after birth, intrauterine treat.

It is not covered by public health

Foetoscopic tracheal occlusion

A fetal therapy developed by our team in collaboration with physicians from Leuven and London that consists of stimulating lung growth before birth.

It is not covered by public health



Once the baby has been born, its neurological development is evaluated, and in severe cases it undergoes surgery to correct the obstruction of circulation of fluid in the brain.

It is not covered by public health


Congenital heart disease

There is a group of structural defects and arrhythmias in which intrauterine fetal therapy may be necessary to save the baby's life.

It is not covered by public health

Fetal anaemia and thrombocytopenia

Fetal anaemia calls for transfusions guided by ultrasound in utero and requires a great deal of experience. In expert hands, it is a technique with excellent outcomes.

It is not covered by public health


Fetal lower urinary tract obstruction

To unblock urine output, ablation of the valves is performed by means of fetal surgery or amniotic urinary drainage. Either operation requires maternal and fetal anaesthesia.

It is not covered by public health

The most sophisticated part of fetal medicine is surgery during pregnancy, specifically on the fetus. This option was considered science fiction until 20 years ago, but now we can carry it out thanks to technology.
Eduard Gratacós, director of BCNatal

Our fetal medicine achievements

  • We were the first in the world to develop the fetal surgery technique with which we treat tracheal occlusion due to a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 2004. J Deprest, Y Gratacós, K Nicolaides). We are members of the pioneering FETO team (Leuven/Barcelona/London), with more than 200 cases treated.
  • We are creators of a unique and pioneering technique of intrauterine unblocking of the fetus's respiratory tract due to a congenital cause or a tumour. We performed the first operation in the world (2011) (Foetal Diagn Ther 2012, Y Gratacós et al.).
  • We have treated spina bifida with open fetal surgery.
  • We are pioneers in Spain in the application of intrapartum fetal surgery to manage large fetal tumours.
  • We apply intrauterine ablation of large tumours by laser or radiofrequency.
  • We perform fetal valvuloplasty in serious fetal heart valve stenosis (the first case in Catalonia and the second case in Spain).

SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital is your hospital

We care for your baby's health from before its birth. We are a leading centre in Fetal Medicine and Surgery.