Neonatal Hemodynamics

NICU baby and nurse

Inside the womb, a baby’s heart is not yet fully functional. The baby receives oxygen through blood flow from the placenta. The oxygen in that blood flow helps the lungs, brain, and other organs develop even before the heart is ready to provide sufficient blood flow on its own.

When born prematurely, a baby loses that crucial source of blood flow from the placenta. This can threaten the proper development of organs and puts the baby at immediate risk for a number of serious conditions such as bleeding in the brain.

UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital is one of the first U.S. hospitals to use an advanced technique called neonatal hemodynamics to monitor the cardiovascular health of preterm babies. Neonatal hemodynamics provides much more precise information about the baby’s heart and blood flow than traditional methods can.

Our program is a national leader in the use of neonatal hemodynamics to care for babies in the NICU. We’re also a trusted source of expertise and training for other U.S. health facilities as they turn to us for help in establishing their own neonatal hemodynamics programs.

How neonatal hemodynamics works

Neonatal hemodynamics uses a special kind of ultrasound imaging, called targeted neonatal echocardiography. It’s a noninvasive method in which a specially trained physician captures dozens of images of a baby’s heart, valves, and blood vessels.

These images provide information about the baby’s cardiovascular health that is more detailed than was previously available. All of this information helps doctors monitor a preterm baby’s lung development, check for any heart defects, assess the baby’s brain health, and create customized treatment plans designed to give these tiny, vulnerable patients a better chance at healthier lives.

Special attention for preterm babies under 27 weeks

At UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, all preterm babies born before 27 weeks undergo a neonatal hemodynamics exam on the first day after delivery. The sickest of those babies are examined even earlier.

Neonatal hemodynamics can also be used to assess full-term newborns in critical condition, which can sometimes spare those babies from the need to received extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO.

ECMO is a lifesaving partial lung-bypass system, but it’s an invasive treatment that requires a longer hospital stay. The more precise diagnosis provided by neonatal hemodynamics can often give care teams the chance to consider more options for treatment.

A neonatal hemodynamics service requires the expertise of physicians who are trained in neonatology and in the cardiovascular physiology of neonates. This rare combination of expertise is necessary for performing targeted neonatal echocardiography and for authoritatively interpreting the images captured.


The fellowship-trained specialists in our neonatal hemodynamics program provide advanced care in the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital NICU, and they’re using their expertise in this cutting-edge technique to conduct research designed to further improve the care of preterm infants.

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Locations and Contact

  • UI Stead Family Children's Hospital
    200 Hawkins Drive
    Iowa City, Iowa 52242
    In House Directions: Level 6
    • 1-888-573-5437 (888 573 KIDS)
  • Quad Cities location
    1236 E. Rusholme Street
    Davenport, Iowa 52803
    • 1-563-421-3980