Advanced Diagnostics


What is Advanced Diagnostics?

Many birth defects can be detected before birth through the world-class imaging and diagnostic testing available at Texas Children’s Fetal Center®.

We offer state-of-the-art imaging technology and, equally important, an expert team of specialists highly trained and experienced in diagnosing fetal abnormalities.  

Early Diagnosis is Key

Our goal is to give each baby the healthiest possible start to life through the earliest possible diagnosis.

Through early detection and diagnosis, we can:

  • Evaluate treatment options available and recommend the best approach for your baby
  • Save lives and improve outcomes
  • Prepare for potential complications and you and your baby’s special needs during pregnancy, delivery and after birth

Some pregnancies with severe anomalies, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, spina bifida or congenital diaphragmatic hernia, may be good candidates for our Fetal Surgical Intervention program. The earlier we can determine the diagnosis, the sooner a course of care can be created.


Ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of your unborn baby, enabling early detection and diagnosis of many birth defects.  

Our center offers the full range of ultrasound technologies, from traditional 2-D imaging for routine pregnancy screenings to cutting-edge 3-D and 4-D imaging for detailed views of suspected abnormalities, improving diagnoses and treatment planning.

Advanced Imaging

In some cases, advanced testing may be recommended to obtain more detailed images of an abnormality detected on conventional ultrasound.  

We also offer specialized expertise in fetal MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), an additional tool used by our team to evaluate and diagnose certain fetal conditions, including severe congenital anomalies.

Fetal Echocardiography

If a fetal heart defect is suspected, we use fetal echocardiography (also known as an echocardiogram or echo) to examine your unborn baby for congenital heart defects.

Similar to an ultrasound, a fetal echocardiograph provides our specialists a better view of the structure, function and rhythm of your child’s heart to help diagnose any abnormalities.

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Fetal Neurosonology

We offer unique expertise in fetal neurosonology, an advanced imaging technique that provides more detailed images of your baby’s brain.  

The specialized ultrasound exam is used to detect brain anomalies in cases where:

  • the fetus is at risk of a brain abnormality, or
  • there is a suspicion of abnormality following a basic ultrasound exam.

Using multiple views and measurements, our specialists obtain a more thorough assessment of the fetal brain structures and a greater level of detail, improving the detection of anomalies.

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Genetic Counseling

We understand how stressful diagnostic testing can be. Our experienced genetic counselors are here to provide education and support to help you and your family.  

We offer:

  • Counseling on the tests available for genetic and fetal conditions, the benefits, risks and results
  • Information about the potential cause(s) of fetal conditions
  • Recommendations for further genetic testing, if needed
  • The latest and emerging genetic tests available, such as chromosomal microarray analysis for more detailed testing and whole exome sequencing for the most complex fetal conditions
  • Help understanding the purpose of and meaning of results from complex genetic testing

Invasive Diagnostics

In some cases, more invasive testing is needed to detect and diagnose birth defects. Our specialists will discuss any risks involved to help you decide which testing is right for your family.

Additional Resources

In the News

For More Information

If you have any questions regarding diagnostic testing available, and which test is right for your family’s needs, our specialists are here to help. We welcome an opportunity to visit with you.

For more information or to schedule an appointment,

call Texas Children’s Fetal Center at 832-822-2229 or 1-877-FetalRx (338-2579) toll-free.

Our phones are answered 24/7. Immediate appointments are often available.