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When you’re pregnant, you don’t want to hear that your growing fetus may need surgery before birth.

It’s natural to worry. Pregnancy and surgery don’t go often go hand in hand. What felt so joyous and exciting has suddenly taken an unwelcome turn. If this is the scenario you’re facing, it’s important to know that today’s leading-edge fetal surgery techniques let us better treat many congenital conditions in utero (in the uterus), rather than waiting until after birth.

Fetal surgery requires the experience of expert healthcare providers from many different specialties. Our dedicated team of highly skilled providers uses the most innovative surgery tools and techniques to care for you and the fetus. And if you or your baby need additional care during or after delivery, our specialists are right there, ready to help.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Fetal Surgery?

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Trusted experts:

Cleveland Clinic is one of the few programs in the U.S. doing fetal surgery. And our industry-leading specialists are always actively researching fetal surgery for better long-term results. Our experts combine their experience to treat many congenital conditions, like spina bifida, lung masses (growths), teratomas (fetal tumors) and other complex conditions in utero. Meet our team.

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Personalized care:

If you need to have fetal surgery, you’ll work closely with a fetal care coordinator who guides you through each step. We know facing this surgery can feel like a lot to manage. That’s why we’ll give you all the help you need — emotionally, mentally, physically and logistically.

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Comprehensive treatment:

We offer specialized, high-risk care throughout pregnancy, delivery and after birth. Our Special Delivery Unit at Cleveland Clinic Children’s is the first in the U.S. designed to provide specialized care and support for parents and newborns with serious medical issues — from the first consultation through delivery and after birth.

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Collaborative care:

It takes the experience of many healthcare providers from different specialties to plan and do fetal surgery. It’s not unusual to have a care team of 20 or more providers. This team will work together to create the most personalized surgery plan for the best results.

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Virtual visits:

Not all appointments need to be in person. You can schedule some follow-ups as virtual visits so you can meet with your providers from the comfort of home. All you need is a smartphone, tablet or computer and an internet connection.

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National recognition:

Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We're recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.

Fetal Surgery Consultation at Cleveland Clinic

Fetal surgery has been a heavily researched and growing area of care since the early 2000s. At first, it was used to treat only rare, life-threatening conditions. Now it’s one of the most common procedures used to treat spina bifida.

It’s also used to treat congenital heart disease, complications with twin pregnancy, large lung masses — like teratomas or lymphatic malformations — growing tumors and other conditions, including those that block the fetal airway. This kind of surgery can improve fetal and newborn survival rates and reduce complications after birth.

Some of the other conditions that we can treat with fetal surgery include:

What to expect at your first visit

Your obstetrician or primary care provider will often refer you for a consultation if they find potential fetal health problems. During this first visit, you’ll meet with different members of your care team to learn more about what to expect. Our providers are compassionate and comforting. They take time to answer your questions and talk about your concerns. You can also take a tour and schedule future appointments. You may have a few tests, as well, like:

Meet Our Fetal Surgery Team

We believe in a team-based approach to care, which means you’ll see specialists from many different areas. Your care team will include adult medicine and pediatric providers, like:

All of these providers work together — and with the provider who referred you — to give the most personalized, comprehensive treatment.


Our healthcare providers see patients at the following location in Northeast Ohio.

Having Fetal Surgery at Cleveland Clinic

Once we have your test results, we’ll work with you to decide if fetal surgery is the best treatment option or if it’s something that can wait until after birth. We’ll go over all the pros and cons so you know what to expect. We’ll also create a care plan for your baby after birth. We’ll explain the process from start to finish and help you prepare for each step.

Cleveland Clinic offers every type of fetal surgery, including:

Fetoscopic surgery

This minimally invasive procedure treats various fetal health conditions with small incisions (cuts). During fetoscopy, we insert thin tools and a tiny camera into your uterus. This lets us see the fetus and do any needed surgery right in your uterus.

Open fetal surgery

Our surgeons make an incision through your abdomen (belly) down into your uterus (similar to a C-section). We’ll reach the fetus through this opening and make any needed repairs. Then we’ll stitch up your uterus so your pregnancy can continue until birth.

Ex utero intrapartum treatment (EXIT)

This procedure is open fetal surgery, but we do it right before delivery. So instead of sewing up the incision to continue the pregnancy, we’ll immediately deliver your baby through the incision (C-section).

Taking the Next Step

Fetal surgery can be life-changing. But in the days leading up to it, it’s natural to feel worried and uncertain. Cleveland Clinic’s fetal surgery team is here to help ease your mind. You can rest assured that our skill and experience mean you’ll get excellent and compassionate care — before, during and after delivery.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s fetal surgery experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s fetal surgery experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.

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