A group of 15 healthcare workers stand in a line behind a red ribbon as a female doctor with light skin tone and dark hair wearing a white lab coat gets ready to cut the ribbon with an oversized pair of scissors

The Heart Institute at Children's Hospital Los Angeles celebrates the opening of the new Fetal Cardiac Clinic with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Unveils New Fetal Cardiac Clinic

A leader in complex prenatal diagnosis, CHLA’s fetal cardiology program offers families the highest level of comprehensive care and expertise.

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 13, 2024)Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has opened its new Fetal Cardiac Clinic, a unique space for expectant mothers and the fetal patient population to continue receiving the highest level of comprehensive care during pregnancy, birth and beyond. Located next door to CHLA at Hollywood Presbyterian Doctors Tower, the Fetal Cardiac Clinic is home to CHLA’s world-class team of specialists trained in diagnosing and treating congenital heart defects and heart diseases before birth.

“Children’s Hospital Los Angeles takes care of the most high-level, complex cardiac patients in Southern California, and that includes babies still in utero,” says Paul Kantor, MBBCh, MSc, FRCPC, Chief of the Division of Cardiology and Co-Director of the Heart Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “With the launch of our new Fetal Cardiac Clinic, we now have a dedicated space that can serve as a one-stop shop for families in need of comprehensive prenatal diagnostic testing and counseling for cardiac anomalies.”

CHLA’s state-of-the-art Fetal Cardiac Clinic features over 3,000 square feet of space and three scanning rooms dedicated to fetal cardiology. CHLA uses the latest prenatal diagnostic tools to assess the fetal heart. In addition to fetal echocardiograms, CHLA also offers advanced imaging techniques such as 3D/4D ultrasound and fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to help diagnose more complex prenatal conditions and tailor treatments that can lead to improved outcomes. In addition, the clinic provides maternal hyperoxygenation (MHO) testing to predict potential problems with prenatal to postnatal transition of the heart and lungs in highest risk forms of fetal heart disease. Because fetuses do not use their lungs to breathe, how much a heart defect will impact flow through the lungs can be difficult to determine before birth. MHO testing allows the medical team to better predict outcomes and risk-stratify pregnancies to the appropriate delivery and postnatal care plans.

“We recognize that learning your unborn baby might have a heart condition can be one of the most stressful, trying times in a parent’s life,” says Jodie Votava-Smith, MD, Director of the Fetal Cardiology Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “As a leader in complex prenatal diagnosis, CHLA’s team of specialists is uniquely equipped to provide families with exceptional medical care and emotional support for every step of the journey, as well as cutting-edge research programs and clinical trials aimed at supporting pregnant mothers and improving neurodevelopmental outcomes in children with congenital heart disease.”

Should a child require surgical intervention post-delivery, CHLA’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Program is one of the highest volume programs in the country, with approximately 850 cardiac surgeries a year. More than 20% of CHLA’s heart surgery patients are neonates, and more than 50% of CHLA’s neonatal heart surgeries are high-complexity cases.

“Our surgery group is dedicated to supporting the Fetal Cardiology Program and providing prenatal consultations with families,” says Luke Wiggins, MD, congenital cardiac surgeon at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “The excellent diagnostics and care provided by the fetal cardiology team are instrumental in facilitating the outstanding outcomes achieved by the high-complexity neonatal surgical program at CHLA.”

Six health care workers with light skin tone sit on a low grey couch behind a sign that reads Fetal Cardiac Clinic

Heart Institute team members from left to right: David Romberger, RN, MSN, CCRN; Shuo Wang, MD; Jennifer Klunder, MHA; Jodie Votava-Smith, MD; Paul F. Kantor, MBBCh, MSc, FRCPC; Luke Wiggins, MD

CHLA’s Fetal Cardiology Program is part of the nationally ranked Heart Institute at CHLA, staffed by a comprehensive team of experts including fetal cardiologists, fetal nurse care managers, fetal sonographers, cardiothoracic surgeons, interventional cardiologists, social workers, psychologists and more. Together, they provide patient families with diagnosis, treatment and post-birth planning, all in a supportive, family-centered environment.

Services provided at the CHLA Fetal Cardiac Clinic include:

  • Fetal echocardiography
  • Congenital heart disease diagnosis and counseling
  • Fetal congestive heart failure evaluation and management
  • Fetal arrhythmia diagnosis and management
  • Fetal cardiac interventions
  • Cardiothoracic surgery consultations
  • Prenatal to postnatal care integration

To learn more about CHLA’s Fetal Cardiac Clinic, visit CHLA.org/FetalCardiology or call 323-361-7398.

About Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Founded in 1901, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is at the forefront of pediatric medicine and is the largest provider of hospital care for children in California. Children’s Hospital is home to renowned experts who work together across disciplines to deliver inclusive and compassionate care, and drive advances that set pediatric standards across the nation and around the globe. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles delivers a level of care that is among the best in the world for a truly diverse population of children. The hospital is consistently ranked in the top 10 in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of Best Children’s Hospitals, including No. 1 in California and No. 1 in the Pacific U.S. region. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles embraces the hospital’s mission to create hope and build healthier futures. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is among the top 10 children’s hospitals for National Institutes of Health funding. The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles supports the full continuum of research, allowing physicians and scientists to translate discoveries into treatments and bring answers to families faster. The pediatric academic medical center also is home to one of the largest training programs for pediatricians in the United States. And the hospital’s commitment to building strong communities is evident in CHLA’s efforts to fight food insecurity, enhance health education and literacy, and introduce more people to careers in health care. To learn more, follow CHLA on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and X, formerly known as Twitter, and visit CHLA.org/blog.