How do doctors diagnose fetal lung lesions?

Fetal lung lesions are usually diagnosed before your baby is born through an ultrasound at the mother’s usual anatomy scan. If your baby is diagnosed with a fetal lung lesion, you will be referred to the MGHfC Fetal Care Program. The nurse coordinator from the Fetal Care Program will help guide you and your family through the remainder of your care.

Once your baby is diagnosed with a fetal lung lesion, you will be referred to MGHfC’s Fetal Care Program. The nurse coordinator from the Fetal Care Program will contact you to schedule required imagining and consults, including:

  • A fetal MRI and a fetal echocardiogram (fetal ECHO) will be scheduled (usually on the same day) to determine the type of fetal lung lesion your baby may have or if the lesion is affecting your baby’s heart
  • Appointments with a pediatric cardiologist and a pediatric surgeon

How do doctors treat fetal lung lesions?

Depending on the results of the fetal MRI and fetal echocardiogram and the severity of the fetal lung lesion (how the lesion affects other surrounding organs), the care team will talk with you and your family about a treatment plan for your baby. Once your baby is born, the pediatric surgeon and nurse coordinator will help you learn more about the treatment options.

Most babies who have fetal lung lesions will require surgery. Timing of the surgery depends on the severity of the lung lesion and if they are causing any heart or breathing problems, but usually occur between 4-6 months of age.

How do doctors treat fetal lung lesions?

A few months after birth, your baby will have a CT scan to examine the cystic lung lesion and you will meet with the surgeon to discuss the operation. The baby will have surgery to remove the lung lesion, typically at 4-6 months of life. After the surgery, your baby will continue to see a pediatric surgeon. Babies who have lung lesions removed through surgery when they are a few months old typically do very well. They rarely have long-term breathing issues. If lung lesions are not removed, your baby may have frequent respiratory infections, chronic cough or shortness of breath. Having the lung lesions removed during infancy also helps your baby’s lungs heal.

What happens after birth?

Depending on your baby’s lung lesion and if they can breathe well, your baby will be able to stay with you in your hospital room. If your baby’s breathing is a concern, they will be transferred to the MGHfC Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for close observation. You will be able to visit your baby as soon as possible. Before leaving the hospital, your baby will need a chest x-ray and a follow-up fetal echocardiogram. As long as your baby is comfortable and breathing normally, your baby will likely stay on in your hospital room on the obstetrical floor with you.

What happens after going home from the hospital?

You and your baby will be discharged home if your baby can do the following:

  • Breathe comfortably
  • Gain weight
  • Maintain their body temperature

Once you and your baby are discharged, the nurse coordinator from the Fetal Care Program will update the Pediatric Surgery team. The nurse coordinator will contact you and schedule any follow-up imaging and consults, if needed.

Rev. 8/2021. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.