The UCSF Hydrops Center of Excellence provides personalized, comprehensive care for hydrops fetalis. Our service is part of the Fetal Treatment Center, one of the world’s top institutions for fetal diagnosis and treatment and a pioneer in treating rare and complex medical conditions that occur during pregnancy.

Our specialists have decades of experience with hydrops and work closely together to deliver exceptional care before and after delivery. Their expertise includes the latest in utero treatments.

A fetus with hydrops fetalis has an abnormal buildup of fluid under the skin, in the abdomen, or around the lungs or heart. Hydrops is usually caused by another medical condition that affects how the body manages fluid, such as a genetic disease, viral infection or birth defect. In many cases, standard testing can't identify the cause of hydrops, but our center's state-of-the-art techniques can find a reason in one-third of these previously unexplained cases.

Hydrops carries high risks of stillbirth, early delivery, and complications for the newborn and pregnant person. By identifying the reason for hydrops during pregnancy, we can provide more effective counseling, focused prenatal care and in utero treatments, as well as better care for your newborn.

Services we offer

Patients at the Hydrops Center of Excellence have access to the following tests and therapies.

Diagnostic services:

  • Personalized genetic sequencing to help determine the cause of the hydrops
  • Genetic counseling to discuss test results and how they may affect current and future pregnancies
  • Detailed prenatal imaging using advanced techniques, including fetal echocardiography, ultrasound and MRI

Therapeutic services:

  • State-of-the-art procedures for hydrops fetalis, including fetal shunts, laser therapy and in utero transfusions
  • Novel fetal therapies currently undergoing evaluation through clinical trials, such as in utero enzyme replacement therapy

Additional support:

  • Comprehensive perinatal care plans, including regular imaging tests during pregnancy, special considerations for delivery, subspecialists needed at delivery and anticipated treatments for newborns
  • Mental health and emotional support from social workers and other specialty providers trained in care for families with complex or difficult pregnancies

Why choose UCSF

Our team has decades of experience diagnosing and treating pregnancies with hydrops, and includes internationally recognized experts from maternal-fetal medicine, genetics, radiology, pediatric surgery, neonatal medicine, pediatric cardiology and many other subspecialities. We apply innovative techniques to understand the details of each case, and we collaborate to pioneer and apply new methods of genetic testing, fetal imaging and in utero treatments. Our team works closely with every family that visits our center to provide the most comprehensive and personalized care possible.