Fetal Expert Care Begins Before Birth with Team of Specialists

November 16, 2022

The Fetal and Neonatal Cardiology program led by Sheetal Patel, MD, MSCI, includes specialists from Lurie Children's Heart Center and The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health. The program ensures families expecting a new baby with heart concerns receive the best diagnostic and counseling care available. The team provides specialized ultrasound imaging of the heart during pregnancy and, each year, performs more than 2,300 fetal echocardiograms around Chicago with a diagnostic accuracy that exceeds 95%. If an unborn child has been diagnosed with a cardiac issue that requires a procedure after birth, the program offers a comprehensive consultation with a multidisciplinary team of experts all in one visit , including a very customized and individual treatment plan for the baby with the help of the fetal cardiac care nurse coordinators. The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health is one of a few centers in the world capable of conducting in utero fetal surgery, and one of the only Chicago-area programs that provides comprehensive fetal health services. Meet the Team of Fetal Cardiac Experts.

The close proximity to program partner, Prentice Women's Hospital, 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. Lurie Children’s is unique in the sense that babies are not born there, but being connected, physically by bridge, to one of the busiest labor and delivery units in Illinois makes treating the most critical babies even easier.

Compromised neonates require swift action including those born with certain heart conditions- where every minute matters. Recently, Dr. Patel streamlined a process for transporting newborns from labor and delivery to either an operating room, cardiac cath lab or the cardiac critical unit at Lurie Children’s. Code Rainbow, created a few years ago,  reduces the time between birth and intervention and works for any transferring hospital from the Chicagoland area, not only Prentice Women’s Hospital. Much of the preparation work of knowing exactly what the baby will need at birth and where they need to go happens in advance so that once the baby is born, they are stabilized and transferred to their next destination. This new and improved workflow won’t be needed by every baby born but on average at least two babies per month have benefited from this efficient and streamlined process resulting in lower time periods a critically-ill newborn spends on low oxygen or lower blood pressure.

Learn more about Lurie Children’s Fetal Cardiology Program.