Fetal & Neonatal Cardiology Program

The Fetal and Neonatal Cardiology Program, headed by Nina Gotteiner, MD, ensures that families expecting a new baby with heart concerns receive the best diagnostic and counseling care available. 

Our fetal/neonatal heart care team evaluates fetuses of mothers with health conditions such as diabetes, lupus and Sjögren syndrome, whicht can affect heart development. We also treat a wide range of fetal and neonatal heart conditions, including:

  • Congenital heart defects ranging from septal defects to hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
  • Prenatal heart failure (hydrops)

The Heart Center provides specialized ultrasound imaging of the heart during pregnancy (fetal echocardiography). Each year our pediatric cardiologists perform more than 1,400 fetal echocardiograms at multiple sites in the greater Chicago area, with a diagnostic accuracy that exceeds 95%. The pediatric cardiologist is able to provide immediate results to the mother at the time of the scan.

Our partnership with Prentice Women's Hospital allows Lurie Children’s to offer complete heart care for expectant mothers’ babies as well as newborn infants. Prentice is connected to Lurie Children's by a bridged walkway. This proximity enables our cardiology team to intervene early in cases of complex heart disease and provide a seamless transfer of the newborn’s care to the Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit at Lurie Children’s.

Our cardiac surgical team at Lurie Children’s, headed by Carl Backer, MD, is supported by neonatologists, dedicated cardiac anesthesiologists and our team of cardiac intensivists led by John Costello, MD, director of the Regenstein CCU. We participate in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons database, and our surgical outcomes rank in the top tier of centers throughout North America.

Read more about the program by visiting the links below:

The Lurie Children’s Difference

The Heart Center at Lurie Children’s offer services that are not widely available elsewhere, including:

  • The Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit with 36 beds, 16 of which are dedicated beds for newborns, and the most advanced medical technology possible, including mechanical heart/lung support.
  • Connection by bridge to Prentice, letting mothers be close to their babies being cared for at Lurie Children’s.
  • In house 24/7 attending cardiac intensivists.
  • Access to the full range of pediatric medical specialties and top-rated pediatric heart surgeons.
  • Family-centered care with support for the whole family.

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What to Expect

At your first appointment, you can expect to receive a fetal echocardiogram. A pediatric cardiologist will perform this heart ultrasound and will discuss the findings and treatment options with you immediately after the scan. The pediatric cardiologist also will discuss the test results with your obstetrician and coordinate any needed treatment.

Fetal diagnostics are available at the following locations:

Prenatal Consultation

If an abnormality is identified on prenatal screening, a prenatal consultation to discuss anticipated surgery or other care after birth can be arranged at Lurie Children's through the Institute for Fetal Health. This consultation will be arranged with the cardiac specialists who will be involved in your child’s care after birth. In addition to a cardiologist, this team may include a cardiac surgeon, cardiac critical care specialist and neonatologist. The specialists will discuss and coordinate the best treatment plan for your baby after birth, and may review anticipated procedures, expected length of stay and anticipated surgical results.

Second Opinions for Infants & Children

The Priority Second Opinion outpatient consultation program is a multidisciplinary clinic where infants and children with diagnosed cardiac defects can be evaluated by cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiac intensivists and interventionalists. Under the direction of Dolores Vitullo, MD, Clinical Practice Director, and John Costello, MD, this visit provides the opportunity for families to meet with the cardiac team and tour the Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit during their visit.

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Our Specialists

Our multidisciplinary team includes the following groups.

Fetal/neonatal pediatric cardiologists: Nina L. Gotteiner, MD; George R. Verghese, MD, MBA​; Michael Carr, MD; Tania Saroli, MD; Angira Patel, MD; Joy T. Johnson, MD, MS; and Nazia Husain, MD. All are board-certified pediatric cardiologists with extensive experience in fetal and neonatal imaging and care.

The Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit specialists: John Costello, MD; Bradley S. Marino, MD; Mary McBride, MDMelissa Smith-Parrish, MD; Conrad Epting, MD; and Eric Wald, MD.

Neonatologists: Headed by Nicolas Porta, MD.

Pediatric heart surgeons: Carl Backer, MDJoseph M. Forbess, MD, MBA​Osama Eltayeb, MD; and Michael Mongé, MD. All are board-certified cardiothoracic surgeons with additional certification in congenital cardiovascular surgery.

Pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists: Led by Isabella Mukherji​, MD​

Our team routinely collaborates with pediatric experts at Lurie Children’s in areas such as:

Program Director Nina L. Gotteiner, MD, is a board-certified pediatric cardiologist with a special interest in fetal heart conditions. She has more than 25 years of experience in pediatric cardiology. In addition to her role at Lurie Children’s, she is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

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Make an Appointment

For Parents
To make an appointment with the Institute for Fetal Health or for a second opinion about in utero heart defects, please call Ralphella (Nicki) Washington at 312.227.4747 or e-mail fetalhealth@luriechildrens.org.

Those desiring a second opinion about treating infants and children with heart defects should call Silvana Illescas at 312.227.4240.

For Physicians
For urgent consultations, MFMs or pediatric cardiologists can reach our specialists by contacting Ralphella (Nicki) Washington at 312.227.4747 or at fetalhealth@luriechildrens.org.

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Additional Information About Congenital Heart Defects

Learn more about why the Heart Center is the top pediatric cardiac program in Illinois according to U.S.News & World Report rankings.

You also can find helpful information about congenital heart defects by visiting the following websites:

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​Neonatal Cardiac Surgery Outcomes

Our surgical outcomes (results) are in the top 5% of the 111 program in the United States and Canada that participate in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons congenital heart surgery database. 

Learn more about our outstanding outcomes.

Click to enlarge the graphs below for more detailed information.


Note: Level 1 to Level 5 indicates transition from Least Complex (Level 1) to Most Complex (Level 5) congenital cardiac surgical procedures.