The end-to-end care provided at the Ontario Fetal Centre (OFC) supports the patient and their family from the time of prenatal diagnosis, to fetal intervention, delivery, and long-term post-natal follow-up. The OFC offers a range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, from the least invasive (such as amniocentesis) to the most advanced (such as in-utero spina bifida repairs).
The OFC is also a teaching hub for Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists and fellows wishing to train in various fetal procedures. The OFC attracts and welcomes trainees from around the world, and encourages cross-discipline research collaboration to spur further innovations and discoveries that can translate to improved health for mothers and babies.
Fetal therapy refers to any procedure (medical or surgical) that diagnoses and treats babies while they are still inside the womb (in-utero). These therapies, in turn, significantly improve the outcomes for affected babies once they are born. Some of these therapies include:
- Administration of medications to mothers that reach their unborn baby by crossing the placenta. Examples include antenatal corticosteroids to aid in fetal lung maturity, or medications to treat irregular fetal heart rhythms.
- Using ultrasound to guide a thin needle through the mother’s abdomen in order to gain access to the fetus and its circulation. An example includes delivering a blood transfusion to an anemic baby.
- Introducing a camera through a small incision in the mother’s abdomen (fetoscopy) to gain access to the fetus, the amniotic cavity or the placenta. An example includes burning abnormal blood vessel connections in twins.
- Making a large skin incision in the mother’s abdomen (similar to a Caesarean section) to access the womb and treat unborn babies directly. An example is open therapy to repair fetal spina bifida.
All fetal therapies have risks, but these are significantly reduced when the procedures are performed in experienced centres by highly skilled professionals. The Ontario Fetal Centre is the leading fetal centre in Canada, with an unparalleled volume and complexity of cases and an infrastructure to support patients and their families throughout their entire journey.
A cornerstone of the OFC is its multidisciplinary approach to care, which involves fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists, geneticists, pediatric specialists and surgeons, anesthesiologists, specialized fetal nurse sonographers, allied health-care professionals, and advanced diagnostic specialists from across Mount Sinai Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children.
Research and Education
The OFC creates accelerated learning and innovation in fetal medicine. It is a nucleus for clinician-scientists to collaborate across disciplines and drive evidence-based care and practices, develop new treatment protocols and guidelines and lead new models of care in fetal medicine.
The OFC houses the largest maternal-fetal medicine training program in Canada and one of the largest on the world. The Centre attracts trainees from around the world, with more than half coming from abroad, further reinforcing Ontario’s reputation as a leading global centre in health-care education and innovation.