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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. Our physicians’ research helps continues to pave the way for advances in prenatal diagnostic technology, and we are continually refining our approach.
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 yields the highest detection rate for potentially serious problems, such as congenital heart disease.
Learn more about birth defects and testing from our team of genetic counselors in our video series on genetic testing.
Your ultrasound will be performed by a physician with specialized training in prenatal diagnosis. That physician will be able to discuss your ultrasound results immediately after completion and help answer your questions.
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 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, you will have access to Mass General’s world-class pediatric specialists, genetic counselors and state-of-the-art treatments and testing—all under one roof.
We also have social workers on staff and support groups set up to help you cope with difficult news should it come 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, which is 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 bifid, hydrocephalus, certain kidney abnormalities, clubbed foot, cleft lip and various types of heart defects.
We also provide screening for high-risk pregnancies and women who are over age 35 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 you to educate you about your baby’s condition and determine the best course of treatment both before and after the baby’s birth.
In addition to 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.
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.
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 specialties:
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.
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.
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
The links below provide more information about conditions and diseases that might be treated within this program.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth abnormalities of the mouth and lip. Cleft palate occurs when the roof of the mouth does not completely close, leaving an opening that can extend into the nasal cavity. left lip is an abnormality in which the lip does not completely form during fetal development.
Congenital heart defects occur when the heart or related blood vessels do not develop properly before or at birth.
A congenital heart defect is a problem that occurred as the baby's heart was developing during pregnancy, before the baby is born. Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects.
Congenital liver defects are rare liver diseases present at birth such as biliary atresia, when the bile ducts are absent or have developed abnormally, and choledochal cyst, a malformation of the hepatic duct that can obstruct flow of bile in infants.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. CF causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus that leads to progressive lung infection and difficulty gaining weight.
Hydrocephalus is a condition in which there is excessive fluid in and around the brain.
A pregnancy is divided into three phases, called trimesters. Each trimester has its own significant milestones.
Spina bifida, also called myelodysplasia, is a condition in which there is abnormal development of the back bones, spinal cord, surrounding nerves, and the fluid-filled sac that surrounds the spinal cord.
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.
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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