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Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Obstetrics: Fetal Medicine

We care for children’s health even before they leave the womb with advanced prenatal diagnosis. We are leaders in fetal medicine.

  • We conduct more than 8,500 advanced fetal examinations yearly, including 3,000 echocardiographies and 1,200 neurosonographies.
  • As part of the almost 1,000 prenatal diagnosis procedures we carry out yearly we offer the full range of advanced genetic techniques (array-CGH, whole exome sequencing) and non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT).

Fetal medicine techniques

Prenatal diagnosis techniques to detect fetal problems may enable a pregnancy to continue and significantly improve an unborn child’s future quality of life.

Main diagnostic techniques in fetal medicine that we have:

  • High-resolution fetal ultrasound: allows the diagnosis of up to 85% of defects with a structural or morphological manifestation.
  • Fetal echocardiography: is a specialized ultrasound dedicated to explore the heart. At BCNatal all complex evaluations are performed by a multidisciplinary team with fetal medicine doctors and pediatric cardiologists, all specialized in fetal cardiology.
  • Fetal neurosonography: is a specialized ultrasound dedicated to explore in detail the fetal brain. It provides highly detailed diagnosis of central nervous system, which can be very challenging to detect and diagnose precisely. Our multidisciplinary approach involves fetal medicine doctors specialized in the fetal brain, working together with neuroradiologists, neurologists and neonatologists.
  • Fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): obtains images of the fetus's anatomy before birth to detect potential birth defects. It is a technique that complements standard ultrasound.
  • Genetic abnormalities in maternal blood: this technique detects the risk of chromosomal or genetic abnormalities, combining a first-trimester ultrasound and a test to detect fetal DNA in maternal blood.
  • Invasive prenatal diagnostic tests: our team has vast experience in the most common types of tests such as amniocentesis, cordocentesis or Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS). We perform any type of specific invasive procedure on the fetus and we are pioneers in some of them such as the chorion biopsy.
  • Non-invasive test of fetal lung maturity: our fetal R&D team has developed a technique in which a computerized analysis is performed on an ultrasound of fetal lungs to determine their maturity.

Our units

Our specialized units offer world-class prenatal diagnosis for fetal problems, with a high precision diagnosis and prognosis, and are linked to our fetal surgery program when therapy is required.

Fetal Cardiology Unit

Congenital heart diseases affect approximately 0.8-1% of newborns, half of these seriously. Children with cardiac defects are treated before birth in our centre. For more than 20-years our multidisciplinary units offer the highest level of diagnosis and prognosis for babies with congenital heart defects. We have conducted extensive research and developed techniques for advanced cardiac structural and cardiac functional evaluation. 

Multidisciplinary teams involving fetal medicine specialists, cardiologists and cardiac surgeons prepare all cases in detail and offer top-class perinatal management, with optimal preparation of postnatal management and surgery where required.

Fetal Neurology Unit

The diagnosis of a fetal brain problem always entails great stress for families. The prognosis can vary substantially and it is critical to provide the highest level of precision in the evaluation. 

We are pioneers in fetal neurosonography with a large number of scientific publications dedicated to the study of the fetal brain. Our multidisciplinary Fetal Neurology group includes fetal medicine doctors specialized in the fetal brain, neuroradiologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons and neonatologists, and where required pathologists and geneticists. We offer a top-level diagnosis and prognosis thanks to the combination of our knowledge in neurosonography and fetal brain MRI.

Unit for Fetal Defects Amenable to Surgical Treatment (pre or postnatal)

Fetuses may present defects in the lungs and airways, abdomen or urinary system, that will require a surgical treatment. In some rare cases this treatment must be performed before birth to achieve the best results, and for this we have our fetal surgery program. 

In many cases, prenatal surgery is not required. However, it is essential to plan carefully the best pregnancy management and postnatal care. To achieve that, after a highly detailed diagnosis involving top-level fetal ultrasound and MRI, our unit gathers fetal medicine specialists with pediatric surgeons and neonatologists, and where appropriate urologists, nephrologists, ENT surgeons and other pediatric specialties. All these specialists are involved in the multidisciplinary evaluation and family counselling to decide the best management for each case.

Prenatal Diagnosis Unit

We are pioneers in prenatal screening of genetic and chromosome defects and provide all techniques for non-invasive and invasive prenatal diagnosis, with an extremely low rate of complications after amniocentesis or CVS.

Multiple Pregnancy Unit

Twins and other multiple pregnancies always represent a challenge for obstetrics and maternal-fetal medicine. In a proportion of twins, the placenta is shared between the two fetuses. They are defined as monochorionic twins, and they have a higher rate of complications, occasionally requiring fetal surgery. 

We are pioneers in the diagnosis of monochorionic twins complications, have conducted comprehensive research to improve the diagnosis and our understanding of the main complications. Thanks to that knowledge, we can offer highly specialized care for monochorionic twins and multiple pregnancy in general.

Other Units involving specialized Maternal-Fetal Medicine care

Fetal Growth Unit: in our dedicated unit we have attended thousands of pregnancies affected by poor fetal growth, we have developed classifications and follow-up schemes, and we apply this long-standing expertise for the best management and counselling of these complex cases. 

Prematurity Unit: we care for women with a high risk for prematurity and offer them specialized follow-up and preventive measures.

In 2015, full of fear and uncertainty, we turned to the fetal surgery medical team. We put our son's life in their hands with absolute confidence because of their experience and research. Thanks to the team at the Hospital, which we visit regularly, we can say that our son is cured. The research, the fact of forming a parent-doctor team, the determination and confidence that they always conveyed to us, have made Daniel's a success story.
Alejandra Vázquez, Daniel's mother
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

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.

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