Ultrasound and Prenatal Diagnostics Center

The Ultrasound and Prenatal Diagnostics Center at Massachusetts General Hospital offers state-of-the-art ultrasound and prenatal diagnostic testing and care, providing a clear picture of your baby’s health before birth.

Call us to schedule an appointment 617-724-9009

Watch our videos to learn more Download prenatal diagnosis brochure


Leaders in Diagnostic Ultrasound

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.

Learn more about birth defects and testing from our team of genetic counselors in this video series on genetic testing.

Nuchal Translucency Screening

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.

Specialized Training

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.

Routine & High-Risk Care

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.

Care in Multiple Locations

Our services are available at Mass General's main campus, Mass General Waltham and the Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care in Danvers.

Emotional Support and Guidance

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.

About this Program

Advanced Prenatal Screening & Diagnostic Services

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:

  • Spina bifida
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Certain kidney abnormalities
  • Clubbed foot
  • Cleft lip
  • Various types of heart defects

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:

  • Early risk assessment (ERA), which screens for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities in the first trimester of pregnancy
  • Screening and testing for genetic syndromes
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS), amniocentesis and other prenatal-diagnosis procedures
  • Specialized ultrasound for fetal growth restriction, suspected fetal anemia, etc.

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.

See our educational video library to learn more about prenatal testing for chromosomal defects, genetic syndromes and structural defects from our doctors and genetic counselors.

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:

Training the Next Generation

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.

Patient Education

  • Your Pregnancy

    Pregnant? Thinking about becoming pregnant? This web page by the March of Dimes provides lots of information about pre-pregnancy and pregnancy issues.

  • Chromosomal Disorders and Testing

    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.

  • Genetic Syndromes and Testing

    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.

  • Structural Defects and Testing

    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.


  • MGH Research Scholar Dr. Gary Tearney’s Work With Imaging - 11/6/2012, Mass General

    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.


Learn more about what to expect during prenatal testing and genetic counseling from our doctors and genetic counselors.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ultrasounds - find out more from Mass General's Chief Sonographer Sue Gamble about ultrasounds, including what an they can tell you about your baby and how to prepare for the procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions About Genetic Counseling - learn what you can expect from prenatal genetic testing and how to prepare from members of the Mass General genetic counseling team

Chromosomal Testing - Anjali Kaimal, MD explains test that can be done during the first and second trimesters and answers some frequently asked questions about those tests

Prenatal Diagnosis for Structural Defects - Allan Nadel, MD discusses screening for structural defects

Prenatal Diagnosis for Genetic Syndromes - genetic counselor Karen Paul, LCG discusses screening for genetic syndromes

Overview of Prenatal Testing - an overview of the different screening that can be done through prenatal testing from Allan Nadel, MD





Ultrasound & Prenatal Diagnostics Center

Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care
32 Fruit Street Suite 4F
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-724-9009
Fax: 617-724-9069

Other Locations

Mass General West

40 Second Avenue, Suite 400
Waltham, MA 02451
Phone: 781-487-3860
Fax: 781-487-3870

MGH/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care

104 Endicott Street, Suite 304
Danvers, MA 01923
Phone: 978-882-6767
Fax: 978-882-6775

Call us to schedule an appointment 617-724-9009

Watch our videos to learn more Download prenatal diagnosis brochure

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