Comprehensive Fetal Care Center

The Comprehensive Fetal Care Center offers diagnosis, treatment, and management of complex and rare fetal conditions, including fetal heart anomalies, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, urinary tract abnormalities, twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, and neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. We are committed to providing comprehensive, family-centered care to ensure patients and their families receive the highest level of specialized care before, during, and after delivery. Our fetal center is the first and only comprehensive program in Central Texas that will provide care for babies with congenital conditions, including care for the mother and baby during pregnancy, delivery of the baby, and care of the baby after birth, all in one place.

Many answers to the questions you have about the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center can be found below.

Comprehensive Fetal Care Center

Expectant parents who receive the diagnosis of a fetal abnormality will experience a range of emotions. The Comprehensive Fetal Care Center care team is capable of providing high-quality care for all types of fetal conditions. Our experienced care team is here to provide families with extensive support and education regarding their unborn child’s condition, development, and neonatal care. We are dedicated to an uncompromising quality of care and work with families throughout the continuum of care.

Patients are cared for by a dedicated multidisciplinary care team, meaning families will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines. Our fellowship-trained and board-certified fetal medicine specialists have extensive experience treating fetal abnormalities and work alongside a team of experts, including nurse navigators, genetic counselors, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, obstetricians, neonatologists, sonographers, palliative medicine specialists, and more, to provide unparalleled care for patients and their families before, during, and after pregnancy. We also collaborate closely with referring physicians and other partners in the community, including pediatric surgeons, pediatric clinical geneticists, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric cardiovascular surgeons, pediatric craniofacial specialists, pediatric endocrinologists, pediatric infectious disease specialists, pediatric nephrologists, pediatric neurologists, pediatric orthopedic physicians, pediatrics urologists, and more, to schedule and coordinate any additional care services you and your baby may need.

The Comprehensive Fetal Care Center is the only fetal care center in Central Texas and is located in the new Dell Children’s Specialty Pavilion that is connected to Dell Children’s Medical Center. Dell Children’s is the only dedicated freestanding pediatric facility in Central Texas serving a 46-county area and beyond. The hospital and affiliated locations are outfitted with the latest state-of-the-art technology and organized to support an unmatched level of multidisciplinary care for all patients and their families.

Dell Children’s has opened a Specialized Delivery Unit (SDU), an 11-bed labor and delivery unit that provides comprehensive care to healthy mothers and their high-risk babies at the time of delivery. Through this addition, babies gain access to the Dell Children’s Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which has earned the highest designation possible for its ability to care for the most complex and critically-ill infants of all gestational ages. Special delivery services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Comprehensive Fetal Care Center is the first and only comprehensive program in Central Texas that provides care for babies with congenital conditions, including care for the mother and baby during pregnancy, delivery of the baby, and care of the baby after birth, all in one place.

The Comprehensive Fetal Care Center care team includes fetal medicine specialists, nurse navigators, genetic counselors, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, obstetricians, neonatologists, sonographers, palliative medicine specialists, and more, who provide unparalleled care for patients and their families before, during, and after delivery. Our team also collaborates closely with referring physicians and other partners in the community, including pediatric surgeons, pediatric clinical geneticists, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric cardiovascular surgeons, pediatric craniofacial specialists, pediatric endocrinologists, pediatric infectious disease specialists, pediatric nephrologists, pediatric neurologists, pediatric orthopedic physicians, pediatrics urologists, and more, to schedule and coordinate any additional care services you and your baby may need.

The Comprehensive Fetal Care Center offers diagnosis, treatment, and management of complex and rare fetal conditions, including fetal heart anomalies, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, urinary tract abnormalities, twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, and neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

A list of conditions treated at the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center can be found here.

The Comprehensive Fetal Care Center is committed to providing comprehensive, family-centered care to ensure patients and their families receive the highest level of specialized care before, during, and after delivery.

A list of services provided at the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center can be found here.

We also collaborate closely with referring physicians and other partners in the community, including pediatric surgeons, pediatric clinical geneticists, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric cardiovascular surgeons, pediatric cardiovascular surgeons,pediatric craniofacial specialists, pediatric endocrinologists, pediatric infectious disease specialists, pediatric nephrologists, pediatric neurologists, pediatric orthopedic physicians, pediatrics urologists, and more, to schedule and coordinate any additional care services you and your baby may need.

Patients are typically referred to the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center by either their primary obstetrical provider or a maternal-fetal medicine specialist when an ultrasound detects a fetal problem. Once we receive a referral from your provider, members of the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center care team will gather your existing medical records and other information to learn more about your diagnosis and prepare for your first visit.

The Comprehensive Fetal Care Center also offers second opinions about diagnosed fetal conditions. Our team will work closely with you to schedule an appointment to confirm your diagnosis and treatment plan.

If you need assistance with getting a referral or you are seeking a second opinion, please call the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center at 1-512-324-0040 and we will be happy to help.

Prior to your first appointment, one of our nurse navigators will conduct an intake call in which they will contact you to gather additional information about your medical history as well as provide education about your fetal condition.

Using the information gathered during your intake call, our nurse navigator will schedule your first appointment, which will be tailored to your baby’s specific condition and needs. This first visit typically begins with a comprehensive ultrasound performed by a fetal medicine specialist, followed by a meeting with our genetic counselor and a consult with one of our fetal medicine specialists. We encourage you to come prepared with questions and ready to take notes.

After your initial visit, our team will schedule any additional imaging or diagnostic tests that may be needed. Additionally, we will schedule prenatal consults with any pediatric specialists, such as pediatric surgeons, pediatric clinical geneticists, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric cardiovascular surgeons, pediatric craniofacial specialists, pediatric endocrinologists, pediatric infectious disease specialists, pediatric nephrologists, pediatric neurologists, pediatric orthopedic physicians, and pediatrics urologists, who may be involved in your baby’s care after they are born.

Our care team will conduct a multidisciplinary conference with all of the pediatric specialists involved in your baby’s care to review your tests and create a comprehensive care plan for the remainder of your pregnancy and your delivery as well as the immediate care of your baby at birth. This plan will always be shared with you.

The Comprehensive Fetal Care Center is committed to providing comprehensive, family-centered care to ensure patients and their families receive the highest level of specialized care before, during, and after delivery. We believe every mother and their baby deserve the best possible care, which is why we’ve compiled a list of resources that may be beneficial to you and your family.

A list of local and national resources can be found here.

Care and Delivery

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, we ask that you limit your accompanying family members to your spouse or partner. During your initial consult as well as other in-person visits, a secure video conferencing platform called Zoom can be used if you would like additional family members to attend virtually.

At the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center, you will be assigned a nurse navigator, who serves as your primary source of communication, education, and support. Your designated nurse navigator will be present at all of your prenatal visits as well as accompany you to surgery if an operation is needed for your unborn baby during your pregnancy. Nurse navigators are valuable members of our team and are committed to seeing you and your family through both a successful pregnancy and a successful delivery.

Telehealth appointments can be arranged; however, most initial appointments will be conducted in person at the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center as they often involve an ultrasound assessment that can only be performed in person. Any additional imaging needed will also be conducted in person. Some prenatal consults with pediatric subspecialists can be arranged by telehealth for your convenience.

As many fetal conditions are associated with a genetic problem, you may meet with a genetic counselor to discuss your baby’s risk for developing chromosomal problems as well as the available tests that can be completed during your pregnancy to identify these types of problems. The risks and benefits of these tests will be explained to help you make an informed decision regarding testing. Once test results become available, our genetic counselor will discuss what these results may mean for your baby. Additional testing may be available to determine whether there is a possibility that your baby’s condition will occur in a future pregnancy.

After your initial visit, our team will schedule any additional imaging or diagnostic tests that may be needed. All imaging and diagnostic testing is tailored to your unborn baby’s condition.

Additionally, we will schedule prenatal consults with any pediatric specialists, such as pediatric surgeons, pediatric clinical geneticists, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric cardiovascular surgeons, pediatric craniofacial specialists, pediatric endocrinologists, pediatric infectious disease specialists, pediatric nephrologists, pediatric neurologists, pediatric orthopedic physicians, and pediatrics urologists, who may be involved in your baby’s care after they are born.

Our care team will conduct a multidisciplinary conference with all of the pediatric specialists involved in your baby’s care to review your tests and create a comprehensive care plan for the remainder of your pregnancy and your delivery as well as the immediate care of your baby at birth. This plan will always be shared with you.

After your initial visit, our team will schedule any additional imaging or diagnostic tests that may be needed. All imaging and diagnostic testing is tailored to your unborn baby’s condition. Imaging and diagnostic testing may include ultrasounds, amniocentesis or a chorion villus biopsy, fetal echocardiograms, and fetal MRIs.

In most cases, your primary obstetrical provider will want to transfer the care of your entire pregnancy to the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center. We work closely with a select group of obstetricians to provide you with prenatal care and develop a plan for your delivery. In the coming months, an obstetrical clinic will open adjacent to the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center, allowing for open communication between the fetal medicine specialists and obstetricians.

In some cases, your primary obstetrical provider may elect to continue to provide your obstetrical care. If this is the case, the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center works closely with your provider to ensure seamless care.

For pregnancies complicated by medical problems that are considered high-risk, the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center will collaborate with maternal-fetal medicine specialists from Ascension Seton and UT Health Austin to provide mothers with comprehensive care throughout their pregnancy. Maternal-fetal medicine specialists are highly specialized obstetrician-gynecologists who have completed an additional three years of training to become experts in high-risk pregnancies with diabetes, preterm labor, preeclampsia, and pre-existing maternal conditions.

The location of your fetal surgery will depend upon the state of your health.

Fetal surgery for healthy mothers will take place at the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center.

In some situations, a medical complication of pregnancy, such as severe hypertension or severe diabetes, may warrant a need for fetal surgery to take place at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin in an effort to provide comprehensive care.

Regardless of where your fetal surgery takes place, the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center will ensure you have access to the highest level of care possible.

The location of your delivery will depend upon the state of your health as well as the health of your baby.

Healthy mothers with high-risk babies will deliver at Dell Children’s Medical Center's Specialized Delivery Unit (SDU), where babies have access to the pediatric specialists involved in their care immediately following birth. Special delivery services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means that for the first time in the greater Austin area, a mother is able to deliver and recover in the same hospital where her newborn will receive the specialty care they need soon after birth.

In some situations, a medical complication of pregnancy, such as severe hypertension or severe diabetes, may warrant delivery at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin in an effort to provide comprehensive obstetrical care. In these situations, babies will be admitted to the Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin Level III NICU. If a higher level of care is required, the Dell Children’s Medical Center NICU Transport Team manages the safe transfer of babies to the Dell Children’s Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) once they are stable.

Regardless of where you deliver, the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center will ensure you have access to the highest level of care possible.

If your delivery takes place at Dell Children’s Medical Center, your baby will be admitted to the Dell Children’s Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which has earned the highest designation possible for its ability to care for the most complex and critically ill infant of all gestational ages.

Babies born with congenital heart diseases and defects will be admitted to the Pediatric Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) at Dell Children’s. The Pediatric CCU is a 24-bed inpatient unit that is dedicated to delivering highly specialized, whole-person care to infants, children, adolescents, and adults diagnosed with congenital or acquired heart conditions.

For deliveries that take place at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin, babies will be stabilized by our team of experienced neonatologists at the Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin Level III NICU. If a higher level of care is required, the Dell Children’s Medical Center NICU Transport Team will manage the safe transfer of your baby to Dell Children’s.

Babies born with complex congenital conditions are cared for in Dell Children’s Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which offers the highest level of care for neonates as they undergo treatment and recovery. Located on the fourth floor of Dell Children’s Medical Center, the NICU provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for the most complex and critically ill infants of all gestational ages and is staffed by neonatologists, nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, and more, who are specifically trained to care for premature and critically ill newborns. Parents can stay connected to their baby in the NICU via NICVIEW, a webcam streaming system that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, allowing families to observe their infant in real time from any location.

For deliveries that take place at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin, babies will be stabilized by our team of experienced neonatologists at the Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin Level III NICU. If a higher level of care is required, the Dell Children’s Medical Center NICU Transport Team will manage the safe transfer of your baby to the Dell Children’s Level IV NICU.

Babies born with congenital heart diseases and defects are cared for in the Pediatric Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) at Dell Children’s. Located on the second floor of Dell Children’s Medical Center, the Pediatric CCU provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary heart care for the most complex and critically ill infants of all gestational ages and is staffed by pediatric cardiac critical care specialists, nurse practitioners, nurses, and more, who are specifically trained to treat heart diseases and defects in children of all ages.

If pediatric surgery is needed after delivery, the surgery will be performed at Dell Children’s Medical Center, a Level I Pediatric Surgery Center. The Dell Children’s surgical program is the only surgical program in the region that is certified by the American College of Surgeons (ASC). This designation is reserved for hospitals that meet the highest standards for surgical care, staffing, training, infrastructure, resources, quality improvement, safety, and data collection. This means babies born with complex congenital conditions who need surgical care have access to pediatric specialists and surgeons who are experts in treating congenital anomalies—all in a single surgical setting and with a team recognized by the ACS as delivering the highest level of clinical care.

Our team of pediatric surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other specialists are trained to care for your baby and will ensure the care experience is tailored for the unique needs of you and your baby.

The surgery department features 13 state-of-the-art surgery suites, each with equipment designed to meet the needs of infants of all gestational ages. Your child’s care team will include pediatric surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and other specialists who are trained to care for your baby and will ensure the care experience is tailored for the unique needs of both you and your baby.

Palliative care is available for those patients with a life-limiting fetal condition, meaning the unborn baby is not expected to live long after birth.

If your baby has a life-limiting condition, your nurse navigator will guide you through developing a birth plan as determined by you and your spouse or partner. You will likely also be scheduled to meet with other members of the Comprehensive Fetal Care Center care team, such as mental health experts, child life specialists, social workers, chaplains, and perinatal palliative care specialists, to ensure you are receiving any additional assistance you may need.