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Mass General was among New England's first hospitals to offer first-trimester screening for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities between the 11th and 14th weeks of pregnancy—and to refine this approach on an ongoing basis.
Because most birth defects occur in low-risk pregnancies, we use a “level 2” structural survey as our standard of care to evaluate fetuses. This approach typically yields the highest detection rate for potentially serious problems, such as congenital heart disease.
Our physicians’ research helps pave the way for advances in prenatal diagnostic technology, and we continually refine our approach based on the latest research. Based on our research, for example, we can typically make prenatal evaluations two or more weeks earlier than we did as recently as ten years ago.
Our approach to nuchal translucency (NT) screening, a sophisticated, noninvasive diagnostic test performed in early pregnancy, includes evaluating the nasal bone to provide a more accurate assessment of your risk for having a baby with birth defects.
All of our ultrasounds are performed by physicians with specialized training in prenatal diagnosis either through subspecialty training or an arduous apprenticeship (or most often, both). Should you have any questions during a prenatal diagnostic procedure, just ask. Our physicians are available to help answer your questions or discuss the latest research.
About two-thirds of our patients plan to deliver their babies at Mass General and remain under our care throughout their pregnancy.
Other patients, including those at increased risk for having a problematic pregnancy due to age, family history or abnormalities suspected elsewhere, are referred to our center and most often return to their own obstetrician for continuing care.
Our services are available at Mass General's main campus, Mass General West in Waltham and the Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care in Danvers.
We understand the fear and uncertainty that comes from a surprising diagnosis. In the rare instances our clinicians identify an abnormality during prenatal diagnosis testing, patients have access to Mass General’s world-class pediatric cardiologists, genetic counselors and state-of-the-art tests—including MRI, echocardiogram, chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis—all under one roof.
Our patients also have access to Mass General social workers and support groups to help them cope with difficult news and make complicated decisions.
Our center considers ultrasound, the least invasive and often most important test, to be the backbone of prenatal diagnosis. In addition to state-of-the-art ultrasound services, we offer a complete range of sophisticated prenatal screening and diagnostic services for all pregnant women, not just those with special circumstances.
The cornerstone of sonographic fetal evaluation is the second trimester structural survey, typically performed at about 18 weeks. This “head-to-toe” anatomic evaluation can diagnose—or, more likely, exclude—the presence of structural defects such as:
We also provide screening for high-risk pregnancies and women who are over age 35 and/or want a second opinion following another test result. In addition to structural surveys, we offer:
Counseling and education, both before and after tests, is an integral component to our approach. If we detect an abnormality, our clinical specialists work with parents to educate them about their baby’s condition and determine the best course of treatment both before and after the baby’s birth.
A Team Approach to Prenatal Diagnosis
Founded in 1995, the Ultrasound and Prenatal Diagnostic Center has been directed by Allan Nadel, MD since 2000. Our practice includes a multidisciplinary team of dedicated physicians, all of whom are board certified in their clinical specialty:
We are training a new generation to be the future leaders in ultrasound diagnosis through our fellowship programs. We are also actively involved in training residents in both radiology and OB/GYN, as well as medical students and occasional visitors to our unit.
Besides working with patients, our physician-scientists are at the forefront of clinical research. For information on participating in research opportunities, please call 617-724-BABY or browse online for open trials.
Pregnant? Thinking about becoming pregnant? This web page by the March of Dimes provides lots of information about pre-pregnancy and pregnancy issues.
Learn about birth defects caused by chromosomal disorders and tests offered by the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology used to identify them.
Learn about birth defects caused by genetic syndromes and tests offered by the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology used to identify them.
Learn about birth defects caused by structural defects and tests offered by the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology used to identify them.
Gary Tearney, MD, PhD, works at the intersection of medicine, science and engineering. He and his team are developing imaging technologies so they can peer into tiny spaces within the body. They can now see into structures in the walls of arteries that supply blood to our hearts. What they see will help them save lives.
Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care 32 Fruit Street Suite 4F Boston, MA 02114 Phone: 617-724-9009 Fax: 617-724-9069
40 Second Avenue, Suite 400 Waltham, MA 02451 Phone: 781-487-3860 Fax: 781-487-3870
104 Endicott Street, Suite 304 Danvers, MA 01923 Phone: 978-882-6767 Fax: 978-882-6775
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