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, labour and delivery, neonatal care and long-term post-natal follow-up. The OFC offers a range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, from the least invasive to the most advanced.
The OFC is also a teaching hub for Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialists and fellows wishing to train in various fetal procedures. The OFC attracts trainees from around the world, and encourages cross-discipline collaboration to spur further innovations and discoveries that can translate into improved health for mothers and babies.
Fetal therapy refers to any procedure (medical or surgical) that 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 medications to treat irregular fetal heart rhythms.
- Ultrasound guidance of a thin needle through the mother’s abdomen and uterus to gain access to the fetal circulation and deliver a blood transfusion to an anemic baby.
- Introducing a tiny camera through a small incision in the mother’s abdomen (fetoscopy) to visualize the fetus, the amniotic cavity and the placenta. An example includes blocking abnormal placental blood vessel connections in identical twins.
- Open fetal surgery to repair fetal spina bifida.
All fetal therapies have risks, but these are significantly reduced when the procedures are performed by highly skilled professionals in experienced centres. 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, paediatric specialists and surgeons, anaesthesiologists, specialized fetal nurse sonographers, allied health-care professionals, and advanced diagnostic specialists from across Mount Sinai and Sick Kids.
Research and Education
The OFC enables 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 in the world. The Centre attracts trainees from around the world, with many coming from abroad, reinforcing Ontario’s reputation as a leading global centre in health-care education and innovation.