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Home : Specialty Care : Center for Perinatal Care : Prenatal Diagnostic Center

Prenatal Diagnostic Center

Prenatal Diagnostic Center

For over 20 years, women of both routine and high risk pregnancies have completed their fetal ultrasounds at the Prenatal Diagnostic Center, a joint program of Meriter Hospital and The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. Utilizing advanced technologies and practices in a caring environment, women receive comprehensive fetal diagnostic ultrasound imaging, testing, counseling and care coordination. The Center is accredited by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), and is one of four units in the Midwest to be accredited for fetal echocardiography. Staff at the Prenatal Diagnostic Center is entirely devoted to and extensively trained in the care of pregnancies with special maternal and/or fetal concerns.

Our Team

Our team is committed to providing excellence in prenatal care. Patients may meet with a Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist and/or Fellow, Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Certified Genetic Counselors, Clinical Nurse Specialists and a network of pediatric subspecialty physicians. We are dedicated to the training of the next generation of health care providers and are proud to be a training site for ultrasound students, genetic counseling students, radiology and OB/GYN residents, and MFM fellows. One of these students may be involved in your care in coordination with one of our experienced staff.

Prenatal Ultrasound and Testing

We accept referrals for the assessment, diagnosis and care coordination for a range of medical, obstetric and genetic conditions that may add complexity to a pregnancy. We offer a full range of services and providers who specialize in the care of both routine and high risk pregnancies.

Fetal Ultrasounds and Genetic Screening

  • First Trimester Screen – This is a noninvasive screening test that estimates the chances that a woman may have a baby with Down syndrome, trisomy 18 or trisomy 13. The test is usually done between 12 and 13 6/7 weeks gestation. This screen involves a special ultrasound of the baby and a maternal blood test.
  • Noninvasive Prenatal Testing/Screening (NIPT) – This is a noninvasive screening test available to women with a higher risk of having a baby with Down syndrome, trisomy 18 or trisomy 13. This blood test can be done after 10 weeks gestation. This testing has a high detection rate for these conditions, but it is not diagnostic. Therefore if it is abnormal, it is very likely, but not certain, that the baby has the condition. In this situation, further testing (e.g. CVS or Amniocentesis) is recommended.
  • Anatomic Survey – This ultrasound is offered around the 20th week of pregnancy and is used to screen for fetal growth, structure and genetic abnormalities in low-risk pregnancies. Additionally, we evaluate for maternal uterine and ovarian well-being. Although reassuring, a normal ultrasound does not eliminate the possibility of a health problem for a baby.  
  • Targeted Ultrasound – This ultrasound is offered around 20th week of pregnancy and is used to screen for fetal growth, structural, and genetic abnormalities in high-risk pregnancies. Additionally, we evaluate for maternal uterine and ovarian well-being. Although reassuring, a normal ultrasound does not eliminate the possibility of a health problem for a baby.
  • Fetal Echocardiogram – This ultrasound is offered to women with a higher chance of having a baby with a heart defect. It is typically done after the 20th week of pregnancy. A pediatric cardiologist who is trained in prenatal ultrasound reviews the ultrasound images of the fetal heart and discusses the findings of the exam with the family after completing the exam. The Prenatal Diagnosis Center is one of four units in the Midwest to be accredited for fetal echocardiography.
  • Amniotic Fluid Volume Index (AFI) – This ultrasound measures the amount of amniotic fluid around the baby.
  • Biophysical Profile (BPP) – This ultrasound evaluates fetal well-being through measurement of the amniotic fluid volume and observation of fetal breathing movements, body movements and tone.  
  • Non-Stress Tests (NST) – Non-stress testing involves monitoring an unborn baby's heart rate over time. The test is performed by a nurse within our Perinatal Clinic.

Diagnostic Genetic Testing

  • Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) – This is a diagnostic prenatal test that examines placental tissue to determine if a baby has a chromosomal abnormality. The test is usually done between about 12 and 13 6/7 week of pregnancy. There is a small risk of miscarriage with this test. 
  • Amniocentesis – This is a diagnostic prenatal test that examines cells found in the amniotic fluid to determine if a baby has a chromosomal abnormality. The test is typically done after the 16th week of pregnancy. There is a small risk of miscarriage with this test.

Genetic Counseling

Genetic Counseling is offered to women to discuss testing options available during pregnancy, review test results as well as medical and family histories. The goal of genetic counseling is to asses a patient’s questions and concerns through discussion and then provide information in a manner that is tailored to and supportive of the patient’s individual needs and background. We recognize that it is often a personal choice to pursue prenatal genetic testing, and as such, we are committed to ensuring that women and their families are informed and supported.

Fetal Care Coordination

When a baby is prenatally diagnosed with a birth defect or a genetic condition, it can be a stressful time for families. Comprehensive care coordination is offered for these families to ensure that they and their primary care provider receive up to date information regarding the health condition, prognosis and treatment, as well as care coordination with other specialists.

Perinatal Palliative Care

When a baby is found prenatally to have a life limiting condition, Meriter’ s Perinatal Palliative Care Program (PPCP) offers specialized care that can help make the time with their baby meaningful, during pregnancy and after, in a way that is best for the family.

Questions?

Please contact The Center for Perinatal Care at (608) 417-6667 with any questions about the services we offer.