The Fetal and Neonatal Cardiology Program, headed by Sheetal Patel, MD, ensures that families expecting a new baby with heart concerns receive the best diagnostic and counseling care available.
Our fetal heart care team, which includes specialists from the Heart Center and The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health, evaluates fetuses of mothers with health conditions such as diabetes, lupus and Sjögren syndrome, which can affect heart development. We also treat a wide range of fetal and neonatal heart conditions, including:
The Heart Center provides specialized ultrasound imaging of the fetal heart during pregnancy (fetal echocardiography). Each year, our pediatric cardiologists perform more than 2,000 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 and counseling at the time of the scan.
Our partnership with Prentice Women's Hospital allows Lurie Children’s to offer comprehensive heart care for expectant mothers’ babies, as well as their newborn infants. Prentice is connected to Lurie Children's by a bridged walkway, enabling rapid intervention by our cardiology team in cases of complex heart disease. It also provides seamless transition of the newborn’s care to the state-of-the-art Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit at Lurie Children’s.
Our cardiac surgical team at Lurie Children’s is supported by neonatologists, dedicated cardiac anesthesiologists and our team of cardiac intensivists and dedicated cardiac nurses. We participate in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons database, and our surgical outcomes are in the top 5% of 111 participating programs in the United States and Canada.
Our Fetal Cardiac Nurse Coordinator Nicole Heilemann ensures that families have access to the cardiac team throughout the pregnancy, and the support and resoures needed. To contact Nicole, please email email@example.com.
The Lurie Children's Difference
The Heart Center at Lurie Children’s offer services that are not widely available elsewhere, including:
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.
Comprehensive Fetal Care Consultations
If an abnormality is identified on prenatal screening, a comprehensive fetal care consultation to discuss anticipated surgery or other care after birth can be arranged at Lurie Children's through The Chicago 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. Our specialty programs offer a multi-disciplinary team of specialists committed to the best outcomes. For an example of what this care journey could include, please refer to the Comprehensive Single Ventricle Fetal Roadmap.
Our Fetal Cardiology Specialists
All are board-certified pediatric cardiologists with extensive experience in fetal and neonatal imaging and care.
Attending Physician, Cardiology; Medical Director, Echocardiography Lab
Director, Advanced Cardiac Non-Invasive Imaging Fellowship; Director, McGaw Bioethics Clinical Scholars Program; Associate Professor of Pediatrics (Cardiology) and Medical Education, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Attending Physician, Cardiology; Interim Medical Director, Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit; Medical Director, Single Ventricle Center of Excellence; Associate Medical Director, NICU-Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Cardiology), Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
In addition to in-person visits, we now offer telemedicine visits via video or phone. Some appointments will still require you to be seen in-person, but your physician and care team will let you know if a telemedicine appointment is available.
We work one-on-one with families to be able to safely provide breast milk for their babies – whether through direct breastfeeding, bottle feeding expressed breast milk or expressed milk through a feeding tube.
To help prepare families for their care with Lurie Children's Heart Center, we have compiled a list of resources that may be of use throughout treatment — whether it's getting ready for an inpatient stay or outpatient visit, or learning more about the support services available to patients and families.
Our team is dedicated to improving education for obstetricians and maternal fetal medicine specialists to increase prenatal detection of congenital heart defects. To help achieve this goal, we offer regional and national CME events to train other providers in fetal echocardiography. Learn more about our past Fetal Echocardiography Workshop.
Each year, we also host Fetology Chicago: Practice & Discovery, an educational program focused on the multi-disciplinary approach to evaluation, care and intervention for a spectrum of congenital diseases, including congenital heart disease. Learn more.
Additional Information About Congenital Heart Defects