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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.

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.

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 West in 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.

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.

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

The links below provide more information about conditions and diseases that might be treated within this program.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Multiple Pregnancy

Symptoms of multiple pregnancy may include: uterus is larger than expected for the dates in pregnancy, increased morning sickness, increased appetite, excessive weight gain - especially in early pregnancy, or fetal movements felt in different parts of abdomen at same time.

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.

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

MGH Research Scholar Dr. Gary Tearney’s Work With Imaging

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.

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.

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 LocationsMass 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

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